Master of World-Spirits

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“Master of World-Spirits”

The culture of distilled spirits has expotentially progressed over the last 20 years due to many measures taken, but can still not be compared to the improvement in the image of wine. National and international wine events and judgings, educational efforts by institutions and associations and other “spiritual” accents have caused distilleries to produce more and more products of a superior quality, which pushed gourmets to develop and practice a more sophisticated taste for their products, aided through the efforts set by the and in the cult-sites of spirits in all their many facets – in gastronomy, hotels and the trade.Wolfram Ortner raised the bar in quality control of distilled spirits by establishing the independent organization “World-Spirits”. As the founder of “Destillata” he successfully managed from 1992 to 1998 Festivals, Awards and symposia.

The objective of “World-Spirits” is not only to improve the quality standard within the indrustry of distilled spirits in general, but also to deal purely theoretically with the subject “Distilled Spirits” in its many aspects, as well as with the practical translation in all its varied forms.

Numerous experts apply to be jury members and often do not understand why the organiser is not interested or rejects their application. The reason for this is that each taster has to complete training at the Academy in order to work flawlessly with the WOB system and to have a suitable command of the comprehensive product and category definitions, which need to be applied appropriately. Were the WSA put to comparison for its ratings in types of aircrafts, it would come close to an Airbus 380. These pre-requisites are therefore required in order to successfully navigate this “instrument”.

This message is directed at those who want to, or must deal with distilled spirits in a more serious way:

  • specialists like distillers,
  • trade associates or those who work in gastronomy.
  • They find themselves daily “on-stage”,
  • obliged to consult visitors,
  • interested parties,
  • buyers,
  • consumers or guests in the optimal choice of a suitable beverage.

The objective of the “World-Spirits Academy” is to transmit the necessary basic knowledge of product varieties, product categories and taste-criteria. A secondary step is designed to deepen this knowledge with the objective of gaining the ability of objectively evaluating and judging the total spectrum of distilled spirits. This, of course requires knowledge of (yet) unknown and new (exotic) products – which should also provide an incentive for manufacturers of such spirits to participate in an objective appraisal within an attractive international environment.

The scope of the “World-Spirits Award” offers the opportunity to sample not only the scent of the spirits but to participate in the “Basic Class Training for Judges-to-be”. A second step of the Specialists’ Training - actually the “Master Class”- provides for several full day training sessions, which feature different topics according to a fixed program. The program ends with a test which in ist way is surely unique. A positive result to this test is the basic requirement for admission to the “World-Spirits Jury”. The Basic Class is not only the basis for the Master Class courses but also forms part of the training to become a “Master of World-Spirits”.

The World-Spirits Academy is supported and sponsored by WOB “Handmade goods for finer living”. At all our events, WOB-Edel and WS 18.5 glasses are used as official World-Spirits glasses.

Master of World-Spirits & Master-Class
Status quo

The spirits market is on the move: customers are more discerning and are demanding better and better products. Dynamic distillers are bringing out surprising and innovative products. Competition and the economic struggle are becoming tougher – everyone wants to be successfully represented on the market in future. The Master of World-Spirits training programme is intended for:

Sommeliers, distillers, journalists, people who enjoy spirits and tasters

The Master of World-Spirits training programme is intended to become the standard for any sommelier working in the restaurant industry or in the trade, and any employee in the drinks sector. Naturally it is also an area of interest for private devotees of all matters relating to spirits.

Very few people can – purely legally or in terms of content – distinguish a fruit brandy from a fruit spirit, and give reasons for the differences in quality. In addition it is essential to distinguish top quality products from inferior spirits and to be able to make sound judgements.

Gastronomy businesses, restaurants and hotels should be cultural centres for the culture of spirits – and the foundation is provided by the Master of World-Spirits training programme.

Distillers learn to assess spirits objectively, quickly and competently – and not just as far as their own products are concerned. They learn how to use the WOB system, and in so doing they also gain the necessary confidence for participating in the WSA.

Journalists can use attendance at training sessions to check their own sensory capabilities – a process which will reveal their strengths and weaknesses in the cold light of day.

Jury members and prospective World-Spirits tasters

Only an impeccably educated and trained jury can guarantee optimal sensory performance in the evaluation of the samples submitted to the World-Spirits Award, thus forming a foundation for serious judgement.

In the course of a year twelve whole-day taster training sessions are held, focussing on different special topics and following a fixed programme sequence. The training sessions are divided into two blocks and are carried out over the course of a whole day.

Members of the jury, contenders and also interested lovers of spirits can take part in World-Spirits taster training sessions. The choice of participants is left to the organisation, and overall responsibility for the training sessions rests with Wolfram Ortner.


The “Master of World-Spirits” training programme

Purpose and content
The sensory handling of spirits, recognising and evaluating the wide variety of spirits available

This training programme is designed as a “finishing school” for connoisseurs – good sensory experience and knowledge are the basis for participation! In preparation (of the Master Class), the Basic Class should have been completed. 

Personal benefit
Being able to find your way in the world of spirits, evaluate products professionally, define the quality of a product, identify errors, learning to value top quality, and the possibility of being included in the World-Spirits jury team.

The positive checks are a fundamental pre-requisite and form the basis for joining the jury team. Only after completing various additional taster training sessions and checks (with consistent sensory performance) can an applicant join the jury team.

In order to be called into the jury team (category), you must have achieved a certain number of points:
First-Class Master: 90% = Fixed starter in the category
Second-Class Master: 80% = 1st reserve
Third-Class Master: 70% = 2nd reserve

Training is bilingual in German and English. The main language is German and the most important parts are translated into English. The proportion of each language is adapted to the participants.

Target group
Experienced distillers, sommeliers, friends of fruit spirits and journalists

Wolfram Ortner

World-Spirits Academy – Dates for 2019

Basic-Class 2019

14th and 56th June -Friday/Saturday: Basic Class 2019

1st day: "The orchard – fruit, scent and aroma analysis"
Definition of (fruit/aroma) type, description, recognition of aromas and classification and evaluation according to the WOB system
Coach/host: Wolfram Ortner

2nd day: "Sensory perception of flaws in spirits"
Product recognition, identification and classification of (inherent) flaws, WOB evaluation and basic check
Coach/host: Wolfram Ortner

Master-Class 2019

16th June - Sunday: „Herbal/ Bitter Root spirits & Exotics and various spirits“
17th June - Monday: „Fruit distillates … - 100% distillates wtihout added sugar or additional alcohol and aromas)“
18th June - Tuesday: „Fruit spirits & brandies“ ...- with added alcohol and/or addition of sugar as well as/ or aromas)
20th June - Thuersday: „Herbal Liqueurs,Bitters & Liqueurs“
21st June - Friday: „Armagnac, Cognac, Brandy de Jerez and other brandies“
22nd June - Saturrday: „Gin, Genever, Vodka, corn schnapps & various other grain-based spirits“
24th June - Monday: „Grappa, Pomace, Marc, Pisco“
25th June - Tuesday: „Calvados, Tequila plus wild card categroy“
26th June - Wednesday: „Rum varieties of the world & Cachaca“
28th June - Friday: „Whisk(e)y varieties of the world“
29th June - Satrurday: „Analytical follow-up tasting“ – World-Spirits 2018 Part 1 (tasting of all categories)
30th June - Sunday: „Analytical follow-up tasting“ – World-Spirits 2018 Part 2 (tasting of all categories)

Subject to change!

Bad Kleinkirchheim – Österreich:
Hotel Kirchheimerhof,
A-9546 Bad Kleinkirchheim, Maibrunnenweg 37
Phone 0043-4240-278
E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,

9:00 to 13:00 am and 2:30 to 5:00 pm


  • Individual taster training session of each Master-Class: Euro 295,- netto
  • All inclusive course fee (12 taster training sessions for Basic-Class graduates): Euro 2,990 net (all registrations with open payments made AFTER 15th of January: 3,300 Euros)
  • Course rate including the Basic-Class (14 tasting sessions): 3.490 Euros net (all registrations with open payments made AFTER 1th of January: 3,850 Euros), plus 20% VAT
  • “Masters of World-Spirits” graduates receive a 10% discount on individual further trainings.
  • The full amount of invoice must be paid in advance. In the event of cancellation after registration deadline the full amount will be charged regardless.
  • In the case of registrations after the official registration closing date, a surcharge of 10%
    will apply.


  • Course with hand-outs
  • Spirits for tasting during the course
  • Diploma in the event of positive result
  • Daily written evaluation of participant’s sensory performance

Number of participants
Registration is done in the order of incoming mail. To ensure perfect training results, the number of participants per course is limited to 14. Course will take place with a minimum of 6 participants. If by registration deadline (January 15) the minimum number of participants is not reached, the course does not take place and the fee will be immediately returned.

Tastings, product definitions & evaluations, workshops, exchange of experience, working on cases and problems in theory and practice
Diploma or certificate of completion of Master of World-Spirits
“World-Spirits Diploma”: after successfully completing the written check test (minimum mark 70%) on the topic of the day.
“Master of World-Spirits”, upon successful conclusion of all 12 taster training sessions with the following check test results:
At least 6 training sessions with over 70%, 3 training sessions with over 60% and 3 training sessions with over 50%
Or at least 3 training sessions with over 80% and 3 training sessions with over 70%
Written test as conclusion of the training, done as homework. The Handbook of Spirits serves as learning and teaching aid.

Diploma or certificate of completion of Master of World-Spirits
“World-Spirits Diploma”: after successfully completing the written check test (minimum mark 70%) on the topic of the day.
“Master of World-Spirits”, upon successful conclusion of all 12 taster training sessions with the following check test results:
At least 6 training sessions with over 70%, 3 training sessions with over 60% and 3 training sessions with over 50%
Or at least 3 training sessions with over 80% and 3 training sessions with over 70%
Written test as conclusion of the training, done as homework. The Handbook of Spirits serves as learning and teaching aid.

Registration and Information - Online-Registration
Registration for all courses ends on 15 January 2019. Registration and payment of the course fees must be received by this time.
World-Spirits Academy, Austria, 9546 Bad Kleinkirchheim, Untertscherner Weg 3
phone 04240-760,


World-Spirits Academy: Tasters’ Training and Jury Schooling

Only a perfectly trained and educated Jury guarantees an optimal sensoric performance and is the basis for the validity of a tasting. A Jury consists of experienced sensoric experts from distilled spirits’ trade factors and distillers. Teams are selected according to main subjects and supported by specific experts. The tastings will be chaired by Wolfram Ortner who is also in charge of the complete organization and execution of the World-Spirits Academy. A team of assistants is available for the organization in connection with the tasting activities.

During the taster’s-training- program of the World of Spirits Academy jurors-to-be or interested fanciers of distilled spirits will be able to acquire the necessary basic knowledge of product categories and tasting criteria. In a secondary phase of the taster’s training – call it the “Master Class” – several full-day taster’s trainings will be held during the course of a year. They will feature different points of emphasis and a firmly structured program. The morning sessions will provide guest speakers, which may be specialists from among the jury members. The selection of the participants is at the organization’s choice, the overall responsibility rests with Wolfram Ortner.

Stage 1 – 09:00 to 13:00

Each special topic will be given attention from different points of view in order to deepen the technical knowledge and give assurance in the practical application of this knowledge – the art of tasting and evaluating according to the WOB System (detailed explanation in the next chapter). A mixture of discussion, exchange of experiences and varied tasting observations will lead to a meeting of the minds in the different areas like the typifation and intensity of a fruit, the spectrum of the olfactory- and taste-varieties of a specific type of fruit, the properties of spirits matured in barrique, their possible faults and other critical cases, the recognition and analyzing of unknown or “exotic” distilled spirits, among many others.

Stage 2 – 15:30 to 17:00

The objective of the Taster’s Test consists mainly in an evaluation of the sensoric capability and the confirmation of the newly acquired knowledge. One more important reason for all jury members to regularly attend the tasters’ trainings. To qualify for the jury-team it is necessary to accumulate the required number of points. Jury members “First Class” are fix-starters at the tastings, the categories “Second Class” and “Third Class” constitute the reserve pool. If during the test the necessary number of points can not be accumulated, it is possible to attend further taster’s trainings, in order to achieve an improvement.

The rating scheme: The WOB system
The rating will take place according to Wolfram Ortner's spirits rating system. This is a 100-point system specifically designed for spirits with five rating criteria.

Evaluation form

A. Criteria:

1. Fragrance – Typicality and intensity

This is where the aroma of a product and also the taste typical to its variety are being rated.

What makes a fruit rate positively or negatively should be determined at the training of the tasters, for example a raspberry can have the taste of citrus fruit, hay, somewhat like marzipan, or simply typically fruity.

It is by the taster's judgement that the product shall be classified, for example, as O.K. (o), or as very good (+).The excellent rating (++) should only be used to distinguish when more than 95 points have been reached. Each (+) of the spirits per category increases the points per category by one. The increase is realistic concerning fragrance, taste and harmony – the rating in the "purity" criteria should only be increased if a very extraordinary product is in question and 99 or even 100 points should be awarded.

2. Fragrance - Purity, deficiencies

Here the deficiencies in aroma which negatively affect the results due to a lack of care during production and/or distillation are addressed.

As soon as a product shows even a slight defect, it is to be rated with a (- -). If the product passes, then it is to be rated with a (+). In the case of doubt, a product can also be rated to the benefit of the submitting party with a (-) if the recognition of the deficiency is not 100% clear.

3. Taste - Typicality and intensity

An intensive taste and the typical features of a variety, as well as the density and complexity of a product, are rated positively. "Weak" products or those that are not typical to their variety will be negatively rated.

4. Taste - Purity, deficiencies

Deficiencies in taste are addressed at this point.

5. Harmony

The general harmony of fragrance, taste, alcohol (as well as wood or sugar) and the density of the spirits are used as a last criterion for the rating and round off the results.

B. The assignment of points per criterion

( -- -- ) Deficient = 10 points
( -- ) Weak = 13 points
( O ) Good = 16 points
( + ) Very good = 19 points
( + + ) Exceptional = 20 points

C. Rating scheme

96 to 100 points: Double-Gold World class, extraordinary product
90 to 95 points: Gold Top product
80 to 89 points: Silver Good to very good product
71 to 79 points: Bronze Average product
65 to 70 points: Weak or slightly deficient product
under 65 points: Deficient product

D. Written description

All rating criteria are separately explained in writing for each distillate and presented to the submitting party in the form of a summary.

E. Publication

All spirits rated at 71 points and above will be publicized – spirits rated under this level will not be publicized in order to not damage their companies. In the personal rating report, these results will be stated and sent to the submitting party.

World Spirits Award registration - step by step

  • Award-Celebration
    Le bolle Nardini
    Via Madonna di Monte Berico 7
    36061 Bassano del Grappa

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