Alex Boyd DipWSET is a hospitality professional with more than 10 years industry experience. Born and raised in New Zealand, his career in the hospitality industry has taken him from the South Island to the Okanagan and through the Canadian Rockies before landing in Toronto in 2014 as part of the opening team at the Delta Toronto. While he has a particular passion for Scotch whisky, he also enjoys the creative side of cocktail bartending, working on flavour combinations and presentations inspired by experiences and flavours from exploring the world around him. We asked him to tell us more about his learning and professional journey:
What made you interested in spirits/cocktails?
My first jobs in the restaurant industry were behind the bar and I really enjoyed exploring the variety of liquor and liqueurs available. I love the creative side of cocktail bartending, combining ingredients to showcase unique flavour profiles or being inspired by other foods, flavours or aromas and trying to recreate them.
Do you have a favourite spirit to mix with or cocktail to make and why?
A Negroni is probably my go to. It’s an incredibly versatile format that rewards experimentation with different base spirits, bitters and vermouths. Best of all (for a lazy home bartender), you don’t need any fresh ingredients!
Do you have any study advice to incoming students?
Read the specification cover to cover! Become an active taster – the more you taste and the more you develop your palate, the easier you’ll find it to apply the academic knowledge built through the coursework.
Alex will be teaching the upcoming WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits.
WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits
WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits is an intermediate-level course for those entering a profession in the industry as well as for enthusiasts who wish to broaden their knowledge in a structured way. You’ll learn about the fundamental production methods, principal raw materials and how they are used to make key spirit styles. You’ll also explore the key practices and principles of serving spirits and the use of spirits in cocktails.
WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits covers the main categories of spirits and liqueurs and examines the influences of production methods on the different styles available in each category, building on the introductory knowledge gained with the WSET Level 1 Award in Spirits. Throughout the course, you’ll develop analytical tasting skills while exploring the use of spirits in cocktails.
This 14-hour course provides fundamental product knowledge and systematic tasting skills. Expect to spend an additional 12 hours on preparation and review outside of the classroom.
- How to taste and describe spirits using the WSET Level 2 Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine®(SAT)
- Major spirits categories and styles, as well as liqueurs, vermouth and cocktails
- The four main steps in spirits production
- What labelling terms mean
- Assessment and description skills as you sample a range of benchmark examples
- Basic principles of spirits storage and service and about cocktail equipment, ingredients, basic techniques and main cocktail families
WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits
Date: Saturdays, November 4th, 11th and 18th at 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Sign Up Early and Save
To help you achieve your 2024 goals, IWEG is offering a special promotion of early bird rates for the first 50 new registrants for 2024 WSET and Wine Scholar Guild courses!
Use the code early24 at checkout to receive 10 per cent off eligible courses! This special offer is effective October 19th and will run until January 2nd. The promotion is not retroactive to existing registrations prior to this date.
WSET Diploma in-class and online courses are not included in this offer.
The Charming Taste of Europe: Abruzzo with Andrea Eby
Wine Scholar Guild is proud to bring you this free two-part online series dedicated to the wines of Abruzzo. Located in the calf of the “boot” of Italy, this region deserves to be revisited by all wine professionals and enthusiasts alike. In recent years, viticulture and winemaking in Abruzzo have made leaps forward in terms of quality, and in turn, these wines have found an increasingly global audience and are now more likely to be found readily near you.
Join Andrea Eby, Italian Program Director for Wine Scholar Guild, for two online sessions dedicated to Abruzzo. In the first, Andrea will lay the foundation by sharing the rich history of viticulture and give an overview from the various terroirs to the many indigenous grape varieties. Andrea will also give insight into the culture of wine of the area, allowing you to put the wines and traditions into a greater context.
Session 1: Monday, November 6, 12pm EST
Session 2: Monday, November 13, 12pm EST
WSET Level 3 Award in Sake
WSET Level 3 Award in Sake is an advanced-level course for industry professionals as well as dedicated enthusiasts who want to develop expertise in this fascinating beverage. You’ll have a thorough understanding of production methods, the factors that account for the style, quality and price of sake as well its cultural and commercial importance in the Japanese and export markets. You’ll learn how to use your tasting notes to make objective conclusions on a sake’s style and quality.
This 42.25-hour course provides in-depth and detailed understanding of the production methods that affect sake style, quality and price. It develops systematic tasting and description skills, as well as the ability to make recommendations. Expect to spend 25 hours of preparation and review outside of the classroom.
- The main techniques that are used in the production of sake and how they influence style and quality
- The principal and specialty categories of sake
- The sake industry and the commercial importance of sake in the Japanese and export markets
- The principles behind the storage, selection and service of sake
- How to appreciate the historic and current cultural and commercial significance of sake in Japan and in export markets
- How to assess and describe sake with confidence, and be able to make selection, storage and service suggestions
- How to taste sake, describe their characteristics and evaluate their quality, using the WSET Level 3 Systematic Approach to Tasting Sake® (SAT)
Meet the Instructor
Michael’s foray into wine and sake has been 25 years in the making, traveling around the world and using wine and sake as a lens for learning about the history and culture of different regions. Michael is one of 70 Sake Samurai in the world, a title bestowed by the Japan Sake and Shochu Maker’s Association at Kyoto’s 1300 year old shrine to sake, the Matsunoo Taisha. He is the co-author of the book on sake “Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth” released on March 8, 2022 and published by Tuttle. Moreover, he is a seasoned sake judge, having assessed sake in Japan, London and Hawaii for the International Wine Challenge and US National Sake Appraisal.
Michael enjoys traveling to Japan whenever he can and has worked in renowned sake breweries in Niigata, Shizuoka, Shimane and Gifu prefectures, practicing his ‘work-in-progress’ Japanese and learning from the Toji (master brewers). His experiences visiting more than 80 sake breweries throughout the country culminated in the development of the Sake Scholar Course, a course dedicated to exploring every sake region in Japan in detail. Michael is currently the Sake Sommelier for Ki Modern Japanese + Bar, where he manages the largest sake program in Canada. He is dedicated to being Ki’s ambassador for sake, educating guests and staff alike in the beauty and subtle art of sake, wine and food.
WSET Level 3 Award in Sake
Date: Saturdays, November 11th – November 25th at 9:30am – 4:30pm
WSET Level 1 Award in Wines
This beginner level wine course is for those starting a career in wine or hospitality or enthusiasts exploring wine for personal interest. You will build your confidence when tasting wine, reading a wine list, buying a bottle or pairing wine with food.
WSET Level 1 Award in Wines provides a hands-on introduction to the world of wine. You’ll explore the main types and styles of wine through sight, smell, and taste, while also gaining the basic skills to describe wines accurately and make food and wine pairings.
This 6-hour course provides a hands-on introduction to the world of wine and wine and food pairing.
- The main types and styles of wine
- Common wine grapes and their characteristics
- How to store and serve wine
- The principles of food and wine pairing
- How to describe wine using the WSET Level 1 Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine® (SAT)
Meet the Instructor
Karen LaVigne is a WSET certified instructor at IWEG for over 10 years and the lead instructor for the WSET Level 1 Award in Wines, an interactive and comprehensive introduction into wine and food pairing concepts. After a successful career in the private and public sector, she pursued her passion for quality wines, spirits and specialty foods through certified sommelier courses and completing the various levels of WSET courses up to and including the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines. She passed the Italian Wine Scholar with highest honours.
She has worked in the wine industry and hospitality sector in various capacities for almost 20 years, including in wine production, retail sales and marketing for the Ontario wine industry and for premium imported wines and products. Karen has developed wine lists for restaurants, managed private clients’ cellars and conducted themed wine and food events for corporations and for groups of individuals who simply wanted to learn more about a specific country or style of wine. She is an engaging and entertaining instructor and guides the students through the fundamentals of wine making, international wine styles and food pairing. She truly enjoys the sense of discovery shared with people who are open to trying new foods and wines or new combinations of old favourites.
WSET Level 1 Award in Wines
Date: Saturday, December 9th at 9:30 am – 4:30pm
Volunteers Needed: Taste & Buy
Vin de Soif is seeking volunteers for a Taste & Buy event with several top boutique wine agencies taking place November 4th from 2pm-5pm at Arta Gallery in the Distillery District.
Volunteers are asked to work two hours, either pouring wines or checking in guests, and each would have an hour to taste wines being poured. 50 to 60 wines are expected to be available at the event. Learn more about the event, including some of the wines that will be poured.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in volunteering.