The Business of Spirits – A VTEC Seminar Day

On Thursday 29th Sept a small team from the WCD Vocational Training and Education Committee (VTEC) gathered at 8.00am sharp in London at the WSET Bermondsey office – a short distance from where the WCD Velo team were starting their epic cycle ride to Schiedam, Netherlands.

I am proud of both teams for delivering tremendous performances and for their huge respective efforts.

As 22 students from our Education partners the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) gathered for coffee, the VTEC team made final preparations to deliver an all-day seminar, titled  “The Business of Spirits” (BOS)

The aim of this part of the VTEC programme is to share the incredible knowledge held by members of our Livery to the next generation of enthusiastic distillers. This helps the attendees understand the wider business beyond the technical skills of distilling. It is also chance to spread the word within the industry of what we as a Livery are all about.

Martin Riley leading the team kicked off the day outlining a brief history of our Livery and our purposes around Charity, Fellowship and Knowledge Sharing.

The impressive small team of Martin, Chris Pitcher, Steve Wilson and Nick Carr then led individual sessions, taking the attendees through the fascinating content of the BOS and their personal stories and experiences in the industry. Topics covered included; It’s all About the Brand, a revealing Global Spirits Market Overview, Finance and the potential of Pricing for Spirits, the value in Category Segmentation, the importance of Consumer Segmentation and finally, lessons and keys to increasing your chances of success in Innovation and Development. With fun exercises and plenty of interaction there was a room full of rich learning.

Attendees from the IBD included Distillers, SME spirit start-ups, Directors, Brand Ambassadors, Owners and Heads of Operations- some having travelled internationally to attend.

Feedback was generous;


“Informative and eye-opening..”

“Really appreciate the insights from the speakers…”

Plenty of enthusiastic conversations and networking continued at the end of the day in The Hide bar beneath the offices!

A huge thank you to the team and to Clive Bairsto for impeccable organisation to make it happen. Our thanks go to Ana Bonilla and Richard Harding and their respective IBD and WSET teams without whom this could not have been delivered.

Chris Porter
Master 2021 – 22