What's on Tap

What's on Tap

New liquors, big ideas: A 'spirited' chat with Durham Distillery

Posted April 13

Photo by Briana Brough

— Even though it opened only two years ago, Durham Distillery is already the No. 2 craft gin distillery in the U.S., according to USA TODAY.

It has also won the North Carolina Gin Distillery of the Year award at the New York International Spirits Competition twice. But, as with any small, burgeoning business, it’s not all glitz and glamour. “I think there are so many people who think owning a distillery is going to be really sexy and gorgeous,” co-owner and president Melissa Katrincic says. "I’m like, there are days where I’m scrubbing the floors, bottling, doing federal taxes, etc.”

Even with the success, Melissa points out that the company is still very much an entrepreneurial endeavor for her and husband Lee, who is also co-owner and distiller. “We’re in a growth stage right now,” Melissa says. “We’ve really come on the scene very powerfully, and people know about us for our high-quality [spirits], which was always the goal.”

Adding to their progress, Melissa shares that a couple new products are in the works, including a cold-distilled cucumber vodka made on their Rotovap vacuum still that's set to be released in May. “As far as we can tell, we think this will be the only cold-distilled cucumber vodka on the market in the world,” Melissa says.

There will also be a new gin under the Conniption flagship that will be barrel-rested in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels and scheduled for a fourth quarter release.

Further plans include increasing the brand’s presence throughout North Carolina – specifically Asheville and Charlotte – as well as up and down the East Coast. Melissa also represents N.C. distillers as the vice president of the Distillers Association of North Carolina, and she is continuously trying to lobby for fewer restrictions to the industry in N.C.

“Most distilleries in other states have the flexibility to not do straight pours, to have cocktails available, and they have flexibility in selling,” Melissa says. “That’s why other states’ distilleries are taking off much faster. We really have to figure out how to get everybody in agreement. The intentions of the distillers are honest and authentic. We don’t want to be ABC stores, but don’t prevent us from succeeding.”

Those motivations are what drive her to continue producing high-quality spirits in Durham. “You don’t know what challenges are on the horizon, but there is an inner passion that just keeps you moving forward, because at the end of the day, you can’t let what feels like challenges really become them. You just figure out how to turn them into opportunities and focus on creating delicious products that the community enjoys.”

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Durham Magazine.

Durham Distillery will be serving up spirits during a number of events during Taste, a four-day festival sponsored by Chapel Hill Magazine, Durham Magazine and Chatham Magazine, on April 20-23. For a full schedule and to purchase tickets head to tastetheevent.com. WRAL Out and About is a sponsor of Taste 2017.


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