The easy answer to that question is to say that a microshiner is a micro-distiller or someone who enjoys craft spirits, but that merely scratches the surface. In reality there is much more to being a microshiner than just the alcohol.
It could be said that a microshiner is the modern version of Prohibition's scofflaw, except today it isn’t the law that is flaunted so much as convention. A microshiner is a reactionary, someone who took a look around and said, “Thanks for the inspiration, but I’m going about this my own way.” Microshiners are risk takers, explorers, pioneers. They are not content accepting the status quo. They realize living a deliberate life is the highest form of art, and they aim to live it well.
The first thing to note about a microshiner is that they choose to live by principle, and their choices are based on value. They are unwilling to settle for the convenient, choosing rather to seek out things of quality, items and associations that embody the manner in which they choose to live their lives.
Of course, they enjoy spirits. The name itself is a nod to small group of insurgents, sappers who are quietly tunneling their way beneath the edifices of the beverage alcohol market. Slowly breaching each fortification the industry had erected to insulate itself, this underground force has quietly taken the thread that began with the craft beer movement to its logical conclusion.
They distilled it.
Distilling is about reducing something to its very essence, and the essence of a microshiner is authenticity, the authenticity that comes with the freedom of personal expression, in word, style, and deed. Being a microshiner is about being authentic. It is about taking ownership of every facet and instance of our lives, and being deliberate with our choices. And it is bigger than trends or fads because it relates to functions essential in the maintenance of a civil society, the manufacture of goods and provisions.
It begins with craft spirits, however they are merely the gateway to the journey.
At its core, this movement is about relationships, between producers and their process, the process and the product, the product and those who make use of and enjoy it. A microshiner takes none of those relationships for granted, and in fact exalts them.
A microshiner is a member of a larger craft culture, a growing community of producers and consumers who are creating a modern expression of quality. A tribe of individuals who find the subtle differences in style, texture, and taste that come from local materials and hands-on methods preferable to what is offered on the common market.
As microshiners, we concern ourselves with terroir. We savor the differences in weather that influences those in dress between the Pacific Northwest and New England. When we travel, we don’t want to see what we saw back home, nor do we feel there is any reason we should have to. We prefer our New England fisherman’s sweater be truly from New England, just as we would our clams. For a microshiner, this manifests in a focus on distillation, with a goal in mind of returning terroir to the realm of spirits and repairing our fractured cocktail heritage.
At its most elemental, a microshiner is an individual who enjoys life, distilled.