The pilot episode

tasteMAKERS will uncover how the makers movement impacts what we eat and drink

Each tasteMAKERS episode will follow the same arc, beginning with a profile, segueing into the process and finally landing in the kitchen to get a taste of the products. In the pilot episode, host Cat Neville visited Gary Hinegardner of Wood Hat Spirits to explore how he makes his mid-Missouri whiskeys, bourbons and cordials. After getting to know Gary and his wife, Katy, and seeing how he hand crafts his unique spirits, the episode wraps up with everyone around the fire at Gary's annual harvest party, with plates of ribs, corn and bourbon-baked beans. 

The pilot episode of tasteMAKERS takes you to New Florence, Missouri, to visit Gary Hinegardner at Wood Hat Spirits. Gary and his wife, Katy, met on a blind date to the circus before he left for India to serve in the Peace Corps. Upon his return, they wed and over the years built a life, and a house, together. That house was hand-built out of wood recovered from an old barn that was destined to be torn down. Having a mortgage-free home was one of the big factors that gave Gary and Katy the financial freedom to eventually launch Wood Hat Spirits. 

Missouri is particularly well-suited to support the growth of the spirits industry. Some of the world's largest cooperages are based in Missouri, which is well-known for its dense forests full of white oak. Missouri is also an agrarian state with easy access to fields of corn and wheat. Gary, who was an agronomist before working for one of the largest stave mills in the country, had all of the ingredients necessary to launch his own distillery well within reach. He traveled the country to research what was happening in the craft spirit industry, and in 2014 launched Wood Hat Spirits in Montgomery County, which is situated on the northern edge of the Ozarks.

With a focus on growing his own heritage breeds of corn, using unusual types of wood such as pecan and chinkapin oak and experimenting with smaller barrel sizes, Gary is crafting spirits that reflect the flavor and character of mid-Missouri. 

In each half-hour tasteMAKERS episode, producer and host Cat Neville will seek out makers who are focused on a specific aspect of the culinary world, be it cheesemaking, bread baking, oyster farming or tofu production, uncovering the makers movement as well as regional American cuisine.

Viewers learn what drives these makers, what inspires them, how they approach their creative process, how they learned their craft. The show explores the process itself and how artisans do their work, taking viewers to unique corners of the country, uncovering regional food culture and history along the way.