This is the FIRST Bourbon Certification program to be RECOGNIZED by the bourbon industry. It was developed by professional distilling and spirits educators advised by a panel of experts in the bourbon and hospitality industries to provide a premium, standardized bourbon education that is accessible and holds real value.

Brian L. A. Wess is the FIRST Executive Bourbon Steward (EBS) in Colorado Certified to train Certified Bourbon Stewards

The premier training and education program established to promote and uphold bourbon’s unique and distinguished culture through hospitality channels by preparing establishments and individuals to deliver on the promise of the authentic bourbon experience.

Founded in 2012, Moonshine University is an artisan distillery and education center purpose-built to support the distilling and spirits industry through hands-on training and education. The faculty consists of over 50 industry experts, from the master distillers of the world’s most successful brands to the owners and operators of the leading craft distilleries. Several faculty members, along with management representatives from the hospitality industry, served as the advisory panel to help develop this training program.

This certification level provides concentrated training for frontline hospitality such as servers, bartenders, concierge and retail. Learning outcomes are designed to enable the participant to discuss bourbon confidently and accurately in a conversational manner, as well as assess the consumer’s preferences and make recommendations based on the consumer’s taste. Certified Bourbon Stewards must pass an online exam as well as a sensory evaluation facilitated by an Executive Bourbon Steward.

Class & Self-guided study (Training Manual provided)
Sensory Training with Executive Bourbon Steward
Online exam

To create a standard base of bourbon knowledge in order to be able to discuss bourbon, to educate and advise patrons about the spirit, and to distinguish basic product profiles.


  1. Students will be able to list the standards of identity for whisk(e)y and for bourbon and be able to identify the differences between the two distillates.
  2. Students will be able to explain the basic science of the distillation process.
  3. Students will be able to define and explain the different bourbon classifications and Bottled in Bond, and be able to identify bourbons belonging to each class.
  4. Students will be able to identify Kentucky’s heritage brands and which distilleries produce them.
  5. Students will be able to identify basic differences in proof, age and mashbill in a blind sensory evaluation.
  6. Students will be able to build a flight of 3 bourbons demonstrate the relationship among the products, and describe their characteristics and nuances.
  7. Students will understand the distillation and aging aspects of bourbon.

Classroom instruction & a self-guided study (handbook), will briefly cover the basic history of whiskey in the United States, leading to the evolution of bourbon. From there the course will detail the technical aspects of whiskey classifications, the science of distilling and aging, and types and brands of bourbon. Students will build familiarity in order to advise guests and answer questions.


Highlights, Context, and What Applies Today


Classifications, Standards of Identity

Production Process

Grain Selection to Aging and Mingling


Mashbills, Proof, Age, Congeners

Brand Awareness

Kentucky Distillers' Bourbons & Locations

Pairing, Flights & Recommendations

Consumer Assessment & Flavor Profiles

Students must pass an on-line exam and sensory exam in order to receive credit for the course.

A  100 – 90
B  89 – 80
No Pass  79 and below

Upon successful completion and passage the student will be certified and receive their membership in the Stave & Thief Society as well as their society lapel pin that visibly designates them as a Bourbon Steward.