The Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS) Exam is a rigorous exam, which tests a candidate’s spirits knowledge and mastery of key elements within the world of distillation and spirits production. This certification is widely recognized and regarded by the international spirits industry.
The CSS Exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, all the material for which is drawn exclusively from the CSS Study Guide. Candidates are provided with one (1) hour in which to complete the exam. There are no prerequisites required to take the CSS Exam. Successful candidates who achieve a score of 75% or better are entitled to use the CSS post-nominal as part of their professional signature. Candidates receive a preliminary score upon completing their exam, and official results are sent in 2-4 weeks. They will also receive a PDF certificate through email, and a CSS lapel pin that is mailed.
Candidates will purchase the CSS Exam through the SWE Catalog+Store. The Exam Authorization does not include any study materials. The 2024 CSS Study Guide may be purchased as a hard copy through Amazon. The 2024 CSS Study Guide is available as an eBook on Amazon and as an eBook on Apple Books. The 2023 CSS Study Guide may be purchased as a hard copy through Amazon. The 2023 CSS Study Guide is available as an eBook on Amazon, and is available as an eBook on Apple Books.
Testing Locations (Schedule Online or In-Person):
CSS exams are available online or in-person at Pearson Vue Testing centers. Candidates will be sent an authorization code after purchasing the exam credit on the SWE website. Candidates will then be able to schedule their exam for their preferred date and time either through Pearson Vue’s network of testing centers or at home online with a computer. Pearson VUE Testing center locations are in almost every major city in the United States and available worldwide. Exam registrations are good for one full year from the date of purchase. Candidate names must match their government issued ID.
CSS Exam Availability:
- 2024 Study Guide: The CSS exam based on the 2024 edition of the Study Guide will be available at Pearson Vue Testing Centers through December 30, 2026.
- 2023 Study Guide: The CSS exam based on the 2023 edition of the Study Guide will be available at Pearson Vue Testing Centers through December 30, 2025.
- 2022 Study Guide: The CSS exam based on the 2022 edition of the Study Guide will be available at Pearson Vue Testing Centers through December 30, 2024.
The Society of Wine Educators offers many additional resources for CSS Candidates, including the following:
2024 CSS Workbook: A 100-page workbook, featuring valuable study resources and practice quizzes, is available on Amazon as a hard copy workbook. The 2023 CSS Workbook is still available for purchase on Amazon.
The Insider’s Guide to the CSS Exam: Offered at least once a month, this webinar will cover all aspects of the CSS, including what the test entails, how difficult the test is, what types of questions should be expected, the resources available to students, and how long SWE recommends for study before sitting for the exam. This webinar is free-of-charge and open to the public. For more information and a complete schedule of our webinars, please see our webpage.
SWE is pleased to offer an instructor-led online prep class for the CSS. The class is divided into twelve (one-week) modules and includes a wealth of study resources including weekly webinars, links for further learning, interactive study activities, a class forum, and weekly review quizzes in addition to access to a dedicated instructor. One online prep class is provided, free of charge, to individual Professional Members of the SWE who hold a valid CSS exam attendance credit. Click here for more info.
The SWE Spirits Tasting Grid: click here to download a pdf of the SWE Spirits Tasting Grid.
Practice Tests and Quizzes: A suite of practice tests and quizzes, based on the entirety of the CSS Study Guide and Workbook and ideal for use near the end of your studies, may be found at this link for purchase. The price for our Practice Tests and Quizzes are $19.00, which includes unlimited use for one year. The Practice Tests and Quizzes are only available online.
Digital flashcards—nearly 800 in total—based on the CSS Study Guide. The price for our flashcards are $19.00, which includes unlimited use for one year. These are digital flash cards, and they are only available online. For more information, click here. Please note, these are the only Certified Specialist of Spirits flashcards that are approved and created by the Society of Wine Educators. These flashcards are only available on the link above.
The Online Spirits Academy is a supplemental online course, designed to aide candidates in their studies. It covers the same topics as the CSS Study Guide, while providing automatically graded quizzes and tests that help an individual understand what they need to study. Please note, though, that all questions on the CSS Exam are drawn from the CSS Study Guide.
The Society of Wine Educators owns the copyright in all exam materials and supplements referenced herein. Any redistribution or reproduction of part of all of the content is prohibited except as permitted by copyright law. You may not, except with the express permission of the Society of Wine Educators, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.