The donations were great, but it was the confidence boost from encouraging Kickstarter donors that really helped a fledgling Scotch maker.

By 2012, Carin Luna-Ostaseski had worked on her Sia Scotch brand for a couple of years. She'd tweaked the recipe and borrowed and saved close to $150,000 for the company. She had a distiller lined up after 80 had turned her down.

But there was a lot left to do. She needed an importer, distributors and government and industry licenses and approval. In the fall of 2012, she turned to Kickstarter for help with money.

There was a problem, though. Even after all her hard work, she was nervous about promoting her company, and especially about filming a promotional video, featuring her, that Kickstarter required.

"My fear was that maybe no one would be interested, that it wouldn't be a success," Luna-Ostaseski says. "Boy, was I wrong."

Her fears were unfounded. Luna-Ostaseski raised $46,000 in 28 days, surpassing her goal by $7,000. She received contributions from 150 family and friends and about 100 strangers.

The money helped pay for bottles, labels, corks and shipping.

And the positive responses from donors gave Luna-Ostaseski the confidence to pitch her product to a top distributor, Wine Warehouse, which ordered 100 cases in December of 2013.

Sia bottles landed on shelves in January of 2014. It is now available in hundreds of stores and bars in California and Illinois. Launches in Florida and Washington, DC are scheduled for spring.

"It was a great way to launch the product. People from all over the world were writing me to ask where they could buy a bottle of Sia," Luna-Ostaseski says. "It put me on the map."

--Associated Press