Mr @Dehner Distillery, I would agree that "things are just as clear as mud as far as what happens behind the scenes in this industry". Deliberately so. Fortunately we live in an age where information is free and travels at the speed of light, so there is no reason for it to remain thus.
To be clear, MicroShiner exists to protect the interests of that portion of consumers, admittedly small, who are looking to invest their dollar in a new paradigm, and to promote those micro-distillers who are committed to providing that value proposition.
The issue at hand, as I see it, is that every distiller has "different target customers, different areas to sell into"; however, in a significant number of cases, this is neither the practice nor the narrative. It has been said here that 99.9% of consumers do not care, so I would challenge everyone to share the narrative that has been put forth in this thread with their next customer and see where that leads. Anyone whose narrative matches the value proposition they are offering would have nothing to lose in doing so.
By your own admission and math, there are not ~2000 micro-distilleries operating in the USA. There are many fewer than that. A rectifier is not a distillery, whether it be craft or not. At some point, words matter. I try to be careful and specific with mine.
At the risk of being unpopular, I will say this, which was the point of my original post. There is a group of us who realize that our current production, distribution, and consumption behaviors are not economically or ecologically sustainable. Within that group there is a cohort who believe that craft (i.e. micro-scale production using intermediate technologies) will be instrumental in developing a sustainable and resilient economic system. This is what drew me to what you all were doing: distributing the production capacity of a critical fixed and use value asset across the landscape. In fact, market forces to create that distributed model are what, along with oil prices, are driving the growth of craft, not consumer preference. Because distillation, more so than wine and beer, is a capital intensive activity that adds significant value to the feedstock (i.e. real value of output in food/fuel/medicine is orders of magnitude greater than the cost of production), to have that capacity both centralized and monopolized is of negative benefit to both the individual and society at large. So I was excited by what you all were doing, that is, until I learned about this business of NGS.
I am a pragmatist, so I say this: there is nothing wrong with NGS or bulk spirits, within context. Properly applied, their production is highly efficient and their marginal cost nearly zero (although there is a point of diminishing returns when you are talking about hauling water). So in that light, I am all for them; they should be used wherever it makes real economic sense. However, what has been made perfectly clear in this thread is that the real use value of craft is being subsumed by those who are marketing sourced spirits under its guise. The result of this is that capital that should be flowing into actual craft production is instead being siphoned off as profit. This is where I have a problem, because I feel very strongly, as does a not insignificant portion of your base (i.e. those critical early adopters, or 1000 true fans), that buying craft rather than commodity is a critical step in building a truly resilient economy.
I understand markets, and I am aware that the average person doesn't know enough to care where their spirits come from, or the implications therein. But I also understand the law of diffusion, and that it only takes adoption by 2.5% of the population to create a shift. It is interesting to note that Apple only makes up ~12% of market, but ask anyone to name a computer brand and half of them will say Apple. Likewise, ask someone to name a craft vodka, and they will likely say Tito's.
Lastly, @MGL - I did not say do it all yourself. What I said was, source from other producers who share your scale, ethic, and values. That will drive capital into more distributed capacity and allow you to align the entirety of your brand with your craft value proposition.
For those who have read through to this point and given my thoughts genuine consideration, I thank you for your time and effort. We are currently working on a peer reviewed and hosted blockchain solution for micro accreditation and mobile tools for validation. I'd love to hear your opinion and feedback.