Photo courtesy of Durham Distillery
had a big night in Chicago Wednesday. Three of the young company’s five spirits earned medals at the American Craft Spirits Association’s Distillers Convention
. The Conniption American Dry Gin
won silver accolades, while both the Damn Fine Coffee Liqueur
(a partnership with Raleigh’s Slingshot Coffee Co.
) and the Conniption Navy Strength Gin
grabbed the bronze.
The organization is a nonprofit whose voting members must be licensed craft distillers. For company cofounder Melissa Katrincic, that setup means these awards are an important vote of confidence.
“For us, it’s reinforcing that we’re on the right track,” says Katrincic, who remained in Durham while husband and co-founder Lee attended the convention. “This is all your fellow colleagues in craft spirits judging you, so they know how the spirits should taste and whether or not you’ve put in the work. When you’re judged by your peers like that, it’s pretty sweet.”
Launched only in August 2015, Durham Distillery has now walked away with awards in both spirits competitions it has entered. The Navy Gin and Chocolate Liqueur earned silver medals at the New York International Spirits Competition late last year. The company has submissions in a few upcoming contests, too.
“I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed,” says Katrincic.
This could be a pivotal year for North Carolina’s growing craft-spirits scene: last October, a shift in state law
allowed distillers to sell one bottle of their work to customers at the distillery itself. That may not sound like much, but Katrincic says it’s boosted interest in their weekly tours (several of which have been sellouts so far this year) and
their cash flow.
“We’re still a startup by all means. Lee is still working his full-time job,” she says. “The law change is a primary reason we’re getting so much volume through the distillery. People now know they can walk home with us.”