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 by our founder Craig Goldwyn and Dr. Harry Lawless of 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 25 years as director and now President of BTI, has professionally reviewed and analyzed over a quarter million 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, 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.
Director of Content & Education
Andrew joined BTI with a decade-plus of industry experience. Starting in retail purchasing, sales, marketing, and independent bar and restaurant consulting, he has primarily been an educator, brand ambassador, and brand development manager for major suppliers including Edrington Group, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Pernod-Ricard, Glen Moray, and Remy-Cointreau.
A Northwestern University graduate with multiple majors, Andrew continues passionately pursuing projects and studies promoting the heritage and craftsmanship of fine libations. As an avid wine and whisk(e)y connoisseur he has studied with the Court of Master Sommeliers, WSET, and French Wine Scholars and is beginning the Master of Wine program after hopefully becoming one of the first Masters of Whiskey. Andrew is also on the boards of RieslingKenner, a charitable organization focused on fighting food insecurity and spreading a love of wine through education and inclusion to historically underrepresented groups, and The Global Council of Whiskey Masters.
Andrew steps into this new role with a deep respect for BTI as one of the most established and venerable reviewers and evaluators of libations. Surrounded by this institutional knowledge and tradition, he seeks to teach and work with the best and most qualified judges and authors, old and new, while modernizing and capturing the attention of the next generation of beverage professionals around Chicago and the globe.
Director of Trade Development
Amy has been working in restaurants and bars on the floor and behind the bar for over two and a half decades; sometimes to support creative endeavors such as freelance writing, and other times just for the love of the game. From her humble hospitality beginnings in high school as a server at a chain restaurant to working as a bartender at the original Big Star Chicago for almost ten years, Amy’s service experience runs the gamut, including teaching yoga for 7+ years, of which she has been an active practitioner for most of her life. Her Master’s Degree in Linguistics and Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism help her to effectively communicate with BTI panelists and clients alike; her hospitality experience and connections allow her to continue to grow BTI’s esteemed pool of expert panelists and keep on relevant industry trends, and her dedication to the organization allows her to stay on top of the results-driven deadlines that allow BTI to produce and publish high-quality trade marketing tools and trustworthy consumer-facing reviews.
The merging of these seemingly unrelated academic and career paths has guided Amy to this point as BTI’s Director of Trade Development; her multifaceted perspective and approach plus her love of establishing a welcoming environment allow Amy to effectively create and manage a tasting space for BTI’s methodology to be properly executed and the client’s products to be properly evaluated.
Communications and Marketing Manager
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.
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.
Lance recently became the Senior Partner at BTI after decades of experience in the financial services industry where he led sales teams that provided products that offered lifetime income streams. Saving, growing, and protecting retirement investments to both maintain an auspicious lifestyle and ensure a legacy that endures is a specialty that harmonizes across markets.
Since becoming involved in BTI’s daily operations he is working with the management team to implement proven business processes to further enhance the effectiveness and deliverability of BTI’s many offerings. By taking a great service and making it even better, it is Lance’s hope to expand the reach and presence of BTI to lead the industry forward.
This is accomplished first by continuing to provide the best independent beverage ratings in the marketplace by using BTI’s unmatched proprietary methodology. Then growing additional ventures that adhere to BTI’s mission of improving the beverage industry one brand at a time with independence, integrity, and consistency. Of course, this is the beverage business, so he wants BTI to not only provide the best service to our clients, but also have some fun along the way. As his father says, “Skoal!”