Systematic Approach to Tasting 

Always check the WSET website to make sure you have the correct SAT. The textbook and CAG can be out of date.

The markers are excepting you to use this - NO EXCUSES. This needs to be followed down to the T. Not following the SAT is the easiest way to loose marks in your exam. As soon as you sit down for your tasting write down a the SAT so you do not forget anything!

Write the following letters down to remind yourself ! 














F(length and nature)






clarity - 0 (have to state)

intensity - 1 

colour - 1 

other - 1* (only aniseed)

Total - 2/3

Clarity - most are clear or bright. I highly doubt a hazy or dull spirit will be given in the tasting exam

Colour - colour sources come from oak, caramel, natural or artificial colourings 

Clear water-white colourless spirits 


White Rum 

Blanco Tequila 


Fruits Spirits 

Gin and Genever 





Gold and Amber spirits > intensity ranging from pale-medium-deep

Golden/Dark rums 

Brandies (Cognac, Armagnac, Jerez)



Aged Tequila/Mezcal 

Other - louching (aniseed spirits)

Clean - O 

Intensity - 1

Aromas - 5

Maturation - 1 

Total - 7 marks 

I think a clean spirit will always be given in an exam. 

Intensity - 1 mark

Neutral > be used for VODKA 

Aromas - 5 marks 

If the spirit is brown - key their is oak. You should write down oak derived aromas 

Oak > spice, char, sawdust, toast, coffee, sherry, cedar 

Neutral spirits eg Vodka - marks are gained for stating the simplicity of the aroma!

Up to 5 marks for aromas > write down 5! 

Vodka aromas 

pear drop, lemon, aniseed, turpentine > state they are neutral! 

Gin aromas 

botanicals ! > juniper, pine, lavender, citrus peel, coriander etc 

Tequila blanco aromas 

peppery, citrus, green beans, aniseed, apple, pear 

Tequila Reposado

 vanilla, almond, oak, honey, sweet melon, butterscotch, brown sugar

Grape brandies - Cognac and Armagnac 

dried fruits and floral, vanilla from wood


always state grain! cereal, porridge aromas, possible peat = iodine


White - Molasses, apricot, pear, banana, mango, papaya, citrus, fig, fruity, orange blossom, jasmine, herbal, mint, grassy, nutty

Dark - banana, roasted nuts, coconut, caramel, vanilla 

Maturation - 1 mark

Colour less spirits - UNAGED !

Short-aged > Reposado Tequila 

Aged briefly, oak flavours not too much development

Matured > VS, VSOP Cognac, Whiskies, Calvados, Rum

oak aromas are integrated into the aroma profile 

Very aged > XO Cognac

rancio notes - mushrooms, fruitcake, decaying leaves, wood polish

Sweetness - 1 

Alcohol- 1

Body -1 

Other - 1

Flavour Intensity - 1

Flavour Characteristics - 3


Length - 1

Nature - 1

Total marks - 9

Sweetness - nearly all are dry ! 

Alcohol - some unaged spirits can seem harsh (vodka) majority will be warming 

Body - think of richness, weight and viscosity. 

unaged, white spirits are usually light, save medium and full for aged.

Other - comment on the tannin integration or texture of the spirit 

Flavour intensity - concentration of flavour on the palate 

Flavour characters - name 3, remember oak. 

Finish - comment on the length and nature 

Length - short / medium / long 


Simple - white, unaged spirits 

Some complexity - VS Cognac, Tequila Reposado, Blended Scotch, premium Gin

Very complex - layers of flavour eg XO Cognac

6 or 7 marks depending on if the extra mark was allocated

in the appearance section

Simply state the quality - faulty - poor - acceptable - good - very good

I do not think a faulty or poor spirit will be given in the exam 

What is your reason ????? 

  • balance (dominated by alcohol or wood)

  • finish (too short)

  • intensity

  • complexity

  • expressiveness (raw material) 

In context - READ THE QUESTION, not sure where all the paper it will be, top or bottom. Sometimes are specific question is asked and you do not need to discuss the spirit in context.

Past examples of questions 

"How method of production accounts for the style"

"How raw material is processed prior to distillation"

"How maturation influence the style/aroma

If NOT follow SAT

Country of Origin 

Raw Material 

Style within category > give reason why

Method of production > give reason why

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