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Pizza Quest: Bourbon 101 with author Albert Schmid

Welcome back to another episode of Pizza Quest. In our never-ending celebration of artisanship wherever we find it, this week’s episode turns a lens onto one of the truly great American crafts, distilled whiskey, most notably, Bourbon. And here to explain it all is my long-time friend, culinary educator, and award-winning author Albert Schmid, whose newest book, Bourbon 101, was just recently released by The University Press of Kentucky.  Many of you may already be far more educated on the subject than I am — I’m a lightweight when it comes to distilled beverages, but am, nevertheless, a fan of the concept and need a mentor like Albert to open up my understanding and palate. After all, if the mission of a baker (as I often write) is “to evoke the full potential of flavor trapped in the grain through the art and craft of fermentation,” we’re really talking about the same thing here when it comes to whiskey. It’s all about distilling the essence, the full essence — the spirit — of flavor trapped in those well guarded, proprietary blends of grain.

In this episode, Albert takes me (and us) through a tasting of four distinct versions of corn mash whiskey, and explains what qualifies some as “bourbons” and as others as, well, moonshine, Tennessee or Canadian whiskey, and the dozens of other variations of hootch. Most importantly, though, he opens up for me — and I think for all who follow along — a whole new level of appreciation for how to savor that essence — the spirit — that distinguishes one brand from another and makes Bourbon such a beloved part of the great artisan story of America (and I think the Scotch, Irish, and Canadians would all lift a glass of their own versions in full celebratory support). Feel free to taste along, as Albert Schmid expertly guides us through Bourbon 101.

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Vision Statement

Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.

Peter’s Books

American Pie
Artisan Breads Every Day
The Bread Bakers Apprentice
Brother Junipers Bread Book
Crust and Crumb
Whole Grain Breads

...and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on