The Art + Science of Distilling

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Stave & Thief Society: Executive Bourbon Steward Training and Certification


Executive Bourbon Steward (EBS) is the advanced level in the Bourbon Certification Program.  This level of certification provides classroom training, hands-on bourbon distilling, and advanced sensory training for owners, managers, program directors, and team leaders.  It is required that a minimum of one manager of a Stave & Thief Society member establishment be EBS certified. Individuals may also be certified. The member establishment’s EBS is encouraged to facilitate the training of his/her staff, using the handbooks provided. This training will prepare staff members to take and pass the Certified Bourbon Steward online exam.


  • Day-long workshop
  • Classroom instruction and demonstrations
  • Hands-on production in distillery
  • Advanced sensory training


To provide a standardized bourbon education, along with the tools and techniques to further participants’ study and understanding of bourbon; to strengthen participants’ skills in guiding their staff in various aspects of Bourbon Stewardship and customer relations; to provide training and materials which will allow participants to develop and expand in-house bourbon programs, and build bourbon lists to grow sales.


  • Students will be able to list the standards of identity for whiskey and for bourbon and be able to identify the differences between the two distillates.
  • Students will be able to explain the basic science of the distillation process.
  • 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.
  • Students will be able to identify Kentucky’s heritage brands and which distilleries produce them.
  • Students will be able to identify basic differences in proof, age and mashbill in a blind sensory evaluation.
  • Students will be able to build a flight of 3 bourbons, demonstrate the relationship among the products, and describe their characteristics and nuances.
  • Students will understand the distillation and aging aspects of bourbon.
  • Students will be able to use their hands-on knowledge of bourbon production to train and answer advanced questions from consumers.
  • Students will be able to perform advanced sensory of bourbon and be able to walk their staff and consumers through how to conduct bourbon tastings.
  • Students will be able to facilitate Certified Bourbon Stewards’ training.


  • Bourbon 101 covers 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.
  • Distilling & Aging 101 is a hands on walk-through of the bourbon-making process where each class will actually distill bourbon. This section not only goes over the process for the managers but how to explain the different steps to consumers and how each step affects the overall product.
  • Advanced Bourbon Sensory Training breaks down and examines the array of aroma and flavor components of bourbon and how specific decisions during the production process determine those attributes.
  • Flight Building dives into how to conduct a sensory evaluation of bourbon and how to walk staff and consumer alike through the process. Assessing the customer efficiently “on the run” and making recommendations according to cues are also covered here.
  • Kentucky Bourbon Trail Proficiency covers the distilleries and brands on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (KBT) experience.  Students will build familiarity with the products and locations of attractions in order to advise guests and answer questions.

TUITION: $500.00 USD for Individual Members • $1,000.00 USD for Establishment Members


  • All class-related materials
  • Breakfast, lunch and refreshments
  • Lifetime membership in Stave & Thief Society
  • Exclusive sensory aroma kit


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