In 2013, with fond memories of olives plucked from her grandfather’s martinis, Melissa launched Durham Distillery – a gin, vodka and liqueur distillery located in Durham, North Carolina. With her chemist husband, Head Distiller Lee Katrincic, this husband-wife duo became the first distillers in the South to be inducted into The Gin Guild, USA Today named their distillery the #1 Craft Gin Distillery in the US, and CONNIPTION Navy Strength Gin was recognized as “Best in the US” by the World Gin Awards in 2019.
This female-led distillery produces premium gins using a unique two-step process and a rare rotary evaporator and custom copper still, lovingly named for her grandmother, Gertrude. Durham Distillery produces award-winning CONNIPTION Navy Strength Gin and CONNIPTION American Dry Gin, DAMN FINE Liqueurs, Cold Distilled Cucumber Vodka, and the only premium spirits-based Canned Cocktails produced in North Carolina (Gin & Tonic, Cucumber Vodka & Soda).
As President and CEO, Melissa is a leader in craft distilling and the American South’s gin revolution, and continues to trail blaze with new products, markets, and as a speaker for distilling and female entrepreneurship. She served as Vice President of the Distilling Association of North Carolina, has lobbied for the industry to Congress in Washington D.C. and spoke as an invited expert on gin for the American Distilling Institute. She is also a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier and Women of the Vine & Spirits.
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