Beverage Testing Institute (BTI) was founded in 1981 as the first international wine competition in the United States, adding beer, spirits, cider, sake, mead and more to the repertoire in 1994. Using industry-leading methodology co-developed with Cornell University and a one-of-a-kind approach to trade focus groups and sensory panelist recruitment, BTI’s evaluations are so much more than a competition. Beverage Testing Institute has become the most comprehensive and reliable source for alcohol beverage product testing and professional reviews in the world.
We’re the research, advisory and engagement company that helps alcohol brands be better. Our value to the trade is built on our unique position as an advocate for the alcohol beverage industry, an independent publication, and a decades-long, consumer-trusted brand. On this foundation, we develop, refine, recognize, and launch the world’s best beverages.
BTI establishes and advocates for the highest standards in the beverage industry. Our proprietary, ASTM-compliant methodology is so rigorous that it has been vetted and accepted by the National Advertising Department of the Better Business Bureau and used by leading beverage brands as the basis for numerous successful quality-based claims in national media campaigns.
For 39 years, our clients and partners have accelerated their development processes, improved the quality of their products, and amplified their brands reputation and worth through quality-centric messages and marketing strategies that we have developed with them.
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Wine Enthusiast, Restaurant Hospitality, The New Yorker, Wine & Spirits, International Wine Review, Epicurious.com, and All About Beer, are just a few of the many media outlets that tap into BTI’s acumen and expertise.
Our Mission: To improve the beverage industry, one brand at a time.
WHAT WE DO
We utilize exceptional methodology, proprietary tools, and decades of experience to offer research, development, and marketing services that protect large investments, elevate brand reputations, optimize market reception, and engage consumers.
Jerald is one of the world’s leading authorities in the drinks space who, over the course of his 20 years as director of BTI, has professionally reviewed and analyzed over 75,000 wines, beers, and spirits and trained hundreds of hospitality and drinks professionals in the science and art of critical liquid evaluation and sensory analysis. Leveraging his deep knowledge and vast experience, he collaborates with beverage brands of all sizes seeking to create great products and winning marketing and sales strategies. Over the past two decades, Jerald has worked closely with the world’s most-admired beverage brands and holding companies, including Diageo, Pernod-Ricard, Beam-Suntory, PepsiCo, Heineken, Starbucks, Bacardi, Campari, MillerCoors, Brown-Forman, and the Boston Beer Company.
Frequently sought out for his expertise and analysis, Jerald has contributed and provided articles, insights, and critiques to media that include The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNBC, The Chicago Tribune, All About Beer, The New Yorker, BBC, and Restaurant Hospitality, and many others.
A graduate of the University of Chicago with a BA in Economics and post-graduate work in the arts, Jerald has amassed certifications and honors that include being valedictorian of his class at The Chicago Wine School, a Certified Sensory Specialist by The Siebel Institute of Technology, Pilsner Urquell’s Beer Connoisseur #2 (the late, great drinks author and BTI panelist Michael Jackson being #1), and an appointment as ‘Cavaleiro’ by the Confraria do Vinho do Porto—an honorary Portuguese Knighthood for his service in the understanding, appreciation, and promotion of Port wines.
Vice President, Operations
Debra manages the day-to-day operations at Beverage Testing Institute. With over 30 years of experience working in hospitality with a focus on food and beverage, Debra not only understands beverages from a product standpoint, but from the context in which beverages are consumed and brand loyalties are forged.
With a degree in restaurant management and extensive experience managing large-scale events at prestigious and high-profile occasions including the Kentucky Derby, Debra keeps a laser-like focus on efficiency and achieving objectives. Clients and partners benefit from Debra’s ability to bring simplicity and order to complex undertakings.
In addition to bringing her culinary expertise to bear for clients and partners, Debra also volunteers by teaching cooking classes for Share Our Strength, a national organization working to end childhood hunger in the United States.
Laura joined the Beverage Testing Institute in 2017 and uses her strong analytical and strategic planning skills to help brands effectively make data-driven production and marketing decisions. She has moderated over 400 BTI focus groups analyzing over 10,000 wines, beers, and spirits using industry-leading sensory analysis methodology.
A passionate advocate for the craft spirits industry, Laura holds a WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits and she is a Certified Specialist of Spirits from The Society of Wine Educators. She brings over a decade of professional experience to bear for BTI’s clients and partners. Recognized for her expertise in the beverage industry, she has presented at major industry events including the National Restaurant Association’s BAR show and American Distilling Institute’s Craft Spirits Conference.
Major brands trust Laura’s deep understanding of consumer tastes and preferences, and she recently co-executed a national consumer taste test for Jim Beam Black—the first of its kind in the US alcohol industry. She has successfully worked with household-name brands including Heineken, Stoli, Glenfiddich and Kirkland Signature, as well as trade groups that include the New Jersey Wine Growers Association and Arizona’s Willcox Wine Country.
Client Marketing Manager
Diana’s status as a hospitality industry veteran has been cultivated through 20+ years of managing, serving, and bartending in Chicago’s top restaurants and nationally recognized cocktail lounges.
In addition to working in tandem with critically acclaimed and James Beard Award-winning chefs and restaurateurs, she is a whiskey aficionado and wine professional, having earned recognition for her intensive studies from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Her sales and marketing career boasts portfolio management from boutique Italian wines to craft-heavy spirits, and she further honed her whisky expertise as brand ambassador for both The Balvenie and Glenfiddich Single Malts.
Diana’s vast industry experience and personal values of empathy and hospitality are the driving force behind her interpersonal communications, and she draws upon this wealth of wisdom when sharing sales and hospitality insights with BTI clients.
Communications and Marketing Assistant
Matthew’s combination of on-the-ground industry experience and sharp aesthetic eye provides contemporary and creative marketing solutions for BTI’s clients. Cultivated over a decade, Matthew’s tenure in the hospitality industry has spanned the food, beverage, and marketing realms. He has spent time in both front and back of house roles with the world-renowned Alinea Group, pounded the pavement in wine distribution and retail, and crunched numbers and built successful campaigns for the national reservation system Tock. Further building on his experience and education, Matthew has earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Advertising from DePaul University, a Culinary and Hospitality Associate’s Degree from Kendall College, and numerous certifications from the International Sommelier Guild
When he’s not behind the BTI desk, you can find Matthew at the stove or in front of the oven creating delicious pastries for his beloved side-hustle, Only Child Bakery.
Jason Jackson brings a diverse range of experience and expertise to the Production Manager role. He gained a devout appreciation for Italian language and culture while living in Venice and has parlayed that passion into study of Italian wine. His extensive marketing background has given him the ability to understand the nuance of presentation, brand recognition, and the value of consumer-centric messaging. He combines his art background and recruitment experience to develop intimate trade events while upholding BTI’s stringent sensory lab protocols.