Foundation of Distilling

Introduction to Distilling

Who should attend?

Introduction to Distilling is a four day course providing a comprehensive introduction to the process and requirements of commercial distilling. It is suitable for those considering distilling as a possible career change or business opportunity.

No background knowledge of distilling is required for the course. We aim to provide you with a sound overview of the industry and an understanding of the disciplines needed to operate a commercial distilling venture. We offer opportunities to learn about the stages of distilling and discuss start up issues including finance and regulations with working distillers and commercial specialists.

How will you benefit?

Typical candidates are those working in sales, marketing, HR, and finance who would benefit from background knowledge in distilling production. The fundamentals of Distilling (FD) require a basic knowledge of the processes used to produce and package the many types of distilled spirits consumed worldwide.

The production of most distilled products involves many common features and the purpose of this qualification is to provide a basic grounding in the technical features of the distillation processes for both distillery production personnel and for people employed in distilling companies (and related industries), but in non-technical roles. The scope of the FD syllabus provides an introduction to the technology common to all aspects of distilled products production, but also allows candidates to select, in one syllabus section, to study some specific details related to the production of the principal distilled products (viz. whisk(e)y, brandy, rum and neutral spirit (for gin/vodka).

This course is ideal for: 

  • Anyone interested in sitting the IBD exams and obtaining a qualification in Distilling.
  • People new to the Spirits / distilling sector looking to gain an understanding and insight of the commercial distilling process.
  • Those looking to start up a distillery or spirits related business and need to gain a basic and technical understanding of the commercial production of spirits.

Outline programme 

  • Overview – general features of the range of product types to include: Whisk(e)y, Brandy, Rum, Gin and Vodka
  • Raw Materials of the Principal Potable Spirits
  • Fermentation Theory
  • Fermentation Technology
  • Fundamentals of Distillation
  • Distillation Technology – Batch and Continuous
  • Specific Production Details for Different Distilled Spirits
    • Malt and Grain Whisk(e)y
    • Brandy
    • Rum
    • Gin and Vodka
  • Maturation and Blending
  • Packaging
  • Distillery Co-Products
  • Quality Management Systems
  • Quality – Process Control
  • Quality – Flavour
  • Quality – Hygiene and Cleaning Systems
  • Plant Maintenance Philosophy
  • Health and Safety
  • Distilling and the Environment

To gain the Certificate in the Fundamentals of Distilling (FD) qualification, candidates will be required to: 

Successfully complete:

  • a multiple choice paper of 50 questions 

Please note: you need to register 8 weeks prior to the examination date to take the IBD examination.

Included in the course price are: – The course material, the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) examination (recognised in over 100 countries around the world). Access to the e-Learning site for the duration of the course.

Required prior learning for the course: no prior knowledge is required (if you are not sure, contact us, so that we can help you choose the course level according to your needs and objectives).

Guided learning hours: It is recommended that a candidate should allocate at least 50 hours of study. This is a NQF / IQF Level 2 course

Learning outcomes – at the end of this course, the candidate should be able to: 

  • Show a general knowledge of the different types of potable distilled spirits and their characteristics and the methods of production which differentiate them
  • A familiarity with principal stages of the distilling processes
  • A basic understanding of the technical terms used in distilling
  • A basic knowledge of the raw materials of the principal potable spirits
  • Processing of cereals, grapes and sugar cane for production of fermentable sugars
  • Familiarity with the names, morphology and nutritional requirements of yeasts
  • An appreciation of basic fermentation theory as applied to distilled products
  • An awareness of the differences associated with pure culture yeasts and “natural” fermentations
  • Familiarity with typical fermentation installations
  • An understanding of how fermentations are controlled
  • A familiarity with the theory of distillation
  • An understanding of the basic concepts of batch and continuous distillation
  • An appreciation of the role of copper
  • Familiarity with typical batch (pot) and continuous distillation installations
  • An understanding of how distillations are controlled to produce correct product specification
  • An appreciation of the design and operation of continuous stills for Neutral Spirit (NS) production
  • An basic understanding of some specific production details for:
    • Malt and Grain Whiskies
    • Brandy
    • Rum
    • Gin and Vodka
    • An understanding of the role of storage in wooden casks
  • An understanding of the need to “finish” spirit flavour and the use of flavourings, if permitted
  • An awareness of the flavour changes occurring during maturation
  • An understanding of the need for blending to ensure taste consistency
  • An awareness of the factors involved in preparing spirits for packaging
  • Familiarity with the configuration of the principal packaging equipment items
  • An understanding of the purposes of package labelling, including bar coding
  • An understanding of the range of co-products available from different distilling operations
  • Familiarity with the use and disposal of still residues
  • Familiarity with the significance of production of CO2
  • Familiarity with specific co-products and their potential value
  • Familiarity with the basic principles and benefits of a quality management system
  • An awareness of the organisational implications of a quality system
  • An awareness of product safety systems (e.g.HACCP)
  • An understanding of the expression of quality as the realisation of a specification
  • An understanding of process and product specifications
  • An appreciation of the practices necessary for quality control
  • Familiarity with the terminology for describing flavours
  • An appreciation of the methods of evaluating flavour
  • An appreciation of the vulnerability of product streams to microbiological contamination and the potential risks and an awareness of how microbiological contamination can be detected
  • An appreciation of the constituents and modes of action of detergents and sterilants
  • The design and operating principles of in-place cleaning (CIP) systems
  • An appreciation of the reasons for the importance of an effective maintenance system
  • An appreciation of the systems or approaches available
  • An appreciation of performance orientated maintenance systems
  • An appreciation of all health and safety considerations in a distillery, including the fermentation area
  • An appreciation of the practices for the safe handling of chemicals
  • An awareness of health and safety issues relating to packaging lines
  • An awareness of the impact of distillation processes on the environment
  • An awareness of practices to reduce environmental impact

Progression Routes – Upon successful completion of the IBD Certificate in the Fundamentals of Distilling, the candidate may progress to the following qualifications: 

General Certificate in Distilling: – The General Certificate in Distilling gives international recognition of the basic, under-pinning scientific knowledge and understanding in the principles of distilling operations

Diploma in Distilling: – The Diploma in Distilling examination is a measure of the candidate’s theoretical knowledge of distilling science and technology. The objective of the Diploma in Distilling is to give international recognition of comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the principles of distilling science and technology 

Please note: if you are interested in any of the IBD courses and qualifications, you will need to register directly with the IBD on the following website:

You will however, be able to choose where you sit the examination and we are a centre for the IBD examinations

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