If you want to take your whisky knowledge to a new level, the Edinburgh Whisky Academy could be the course for you. But don’t expect an easy ride, says Richard Goslan

Any illusions that I’m in for a relaxed couple of days on the Edinburgh Whisky Academy’s course topping up my knowledge about Single Malt Whisky don’t last long. About as long as it takes course lecturer Vic Cameron to launch into a detailed explanation about identifying spicules or rachilla in the distiller’s preferred strain of barley.

The entire production process for batch distillation is only one of the areas he covers during the two-day course. As well as extensive pre-class reading about whisky’s history, there’s its commercial development, maturation, as well as techniques for creating and enhancing flavour. We also learn how to nose a whisky, how to describe it in detail, and how to conduct a tasting session.

Vic Cameron at Edinburgh Whisky Academy

Every bit of whisky knowledge we cram into the intense session culminates in a two-hour exam at the end of the second day, which has been accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority, the national body in Scotland responsible for the development, assessment and certification of qualifications.

I’m relieved to say I passed – but with my fellow students including people already working within the industry, who were looking just as stressed as me, I wasn’t taking anything for granted.The Edinburgh Whisky Academy

“It’s an intense course, but everyone who’s taken it so far has left feeling energised and with a greater knowledge,” says industry veteran Kirsty McKerrow, the driving force behind the Edinburgh Whisky Academy who saw the need for an independent vocational qualification focussed on the spirit. “Whisky is such a unique expression of Scotland’s past and present, but everyone can always become more expert.”

I know I certainly can. Now, what’s the difference in flavour compounds imparted by the cis and trans lactones in the oak cask again?

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is proud to partner with the Edinburgh Whisky Academy to offer members of the SMWS an exclusive two-day diploma in Single Malt Whisky. The course will take place at 28 Queen Street on 6 and 7 May 2017. Members taking part will also receive a three-course dinner and special tasting.

See www.edinburghwhiskyacademy.com for more information or to sign up get in touch by email at info@edinburghwhiskyacademy.com

You can reserve your ticket by visiting the Society’s events page at www.smws.com/the-diploma-in-single-malt-whisky-with-the-edinburgh-whisky-academy