A record 94,832 people across the globe signed up for a Wine & Spirit Education Trust course in the 2017/18 academic year.

In the UK, 19,460 candidates took courses, which was roughly the same as the previous year.

The WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits saw the greatest growth in Britain, with student numbers up 43% on the previous year.

The organisation credited a growing consumer demand for gin, whisky and vodka with driving the interest in spirits education among the trade.

China overtook Britain as the WSET’s top market after recording 9% growth in student numbers, while the USA, Canada and Australia rounded out the top five.

WSET chief executive Ian Harris said: “2017/18 has been another successful year for WSET as we continue to strengthen our offer to maintain our best in class reputation.

“Global demand makes wine education the bread and butter of our business, but it is great to see such high growth in spirits qualifications as we prepare for the launch of the first WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits next year.”

Over the next academic year, the education and awards teams will be gearing up to launch the WSET’s new and enhanced qualifications in August 2019.

This will completethe separation of WSET’s qualifications into three distinct subject-matter streams: wine, spirits and sake.

The first ever Level 3 Award in Spirits will undergo an intensive pilot programme, while the Level 2 Award in Wine and the Diploma in Wines are also being overhauled.

The top 10 WSET markets for the academic year 2017/18 (growth from previous year) are:

1. China (+9%)

2. UK (+0%)

3. USA (+24%)

4. Canada (+5%)

5. Australia (+18%)

6. France (+17%)

7. UAE (+40%)

8. Switzerland (-1%)

9. Brazil (+75%)

10. Netherlands (+6%)