Melissa Katrincic, President & CEO, Co-founder
A Passion for Gin
Melissa Green Katrincic, is Durham Distillery’s co-founder, CEO, and an all-around badass for being the first (and so far, only) U.S. female distiller inducted into The Gin Guild. She is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier and is a certified, with distinction, WSET II in Spirits.
With a Spirited passion like Melissa’s, we’re pretty sure she’s got gin running through her veins. Melissa is an frequent speaker, including her presentations and panels on gin, and is one of only a few female distillers in the U.S. who is a trained gin tastings judge.
She served on the American Craft Spirits Association COVID-19 national task force focused on hand sanitizer, served as Vice President of the Distilling Association of North Carolina, and lobbied for the industry to the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C.
Melissa and co-founder/husband Lee Katrincic founded Durham Distillery in 2013.
And before all that … Melissa spent 20+ years as a digital marketing expert for big hitters like Burt’s Bees, advertising agencies and pharmaceuticals. It is through her trailblazing experience as a digital strategist that she was ready, qualified, and knowledgeable to position Durham Distillery and the Conniption Gin Brand to the public.
It exploded onto the market winning a Gold, Double Gold and Platinum medals from San Francisco, New York International, Beverage Tasting Institute & The World Gin Awards. Conniption gins continue to skyrocket to new heights of recognition and appreciation by discerning Spirits connoisseurs worldwide.
A physics graduate of Bryn Mawr College, Melissa also studied physics and astrophysics at The University of Edinburgh and earned an MA in project management.
She is a consistent supporter for women's entrepreneurs and in 2019, was identified as a benefactor of Constellation Brands Ventures: "Focus on Female Founders."
Inspired by Generations of Strong Women
In many ways, the Gin Craze of 18th century England paved the way for feminism and women trailblazers in business. Melissa would soon follow her sisters in spirits. While history tends to focus on the deleterious effects of gin on the health of the general public and the morality of women in particular, it is overlooked for its groundbreaking opportunity for women to compete in the retail arena. Low cost of entry, the fact that females were not expressly forbidden from the field (unlike other commerce at the time) and no requirements for a guild membership, made the gin business a quick and profitable avenue for women to support themselves. There were nearly 500 female retailers in London at the time and at least two women on record as distillers.
Melissa attributes her drive and inspiration to the women in her family. Her grandmothers were both positive and strong influences in her life with her paternal grandmother Peggy, head RN of a busy ER in Miami and her maternal grandmother, Gertrude, serving in the Red Cross during WWII and later, city council's zoning board. Even her great-grandmother was a force, when during the Great Depression and after her husband passed from the 1918 Spanish Flu, she ran the college cafeteria at the University of Rochester - securing their financial security and enabling Kenneth to be a college graduate. Not an easy feat for a single mom in the 1930s. (Pictured is Melissa's Mom, Melissa, Melissa's Sister, Nana)
Melissa, her mother, and sister, all graduated from women’s colleges where Melissa received the benefit of ample leadership opportunities that engender the assumption of success - not the novelty of it. According to Forbes, “In several key areas, women's colleges performed higher, including in the proportion of entrepreneurs produced and leadership training received.”
Holding to that strong tradition Melissa is founding member of the U.S. Gin Association, and currently the first and only U.S. female gin distiller to be accepted and inducted into The Gin Guild [incorporated by the Worshipful Company of Distillers, one of London’s traditional Livery Companies, incorporated by Royal Charter in 1638].