THE MDC TEAM

 
 
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LESLIE MERINOFF KWASNIESKI

Co-founder

Leslie Merinoff Kwasnieski thinks there is a better possible route to developing really beautiful spirits and bringing them to the market.  And she’s building that route, for you.  If new brands could spend their money more effectively -- buying the best agriculture out there, the best expertise out there, the best equipment out there, the best design work and the best advice out there -- but only buying as much as they needed -- it would actually be possible to create unique, nuanced, craft spirits brands in stunning, attention grabbing packaging to share with the world.  Through Leslie’s career, she learned about the necessity to scale - but it was a boom in tech that showed us all the opportunity in sharing.  Matchbook Distilling Co. can reach scale by working for lots of businesses that are aligned by a set of core values.  Matchbook Distilling Co. is an accelerator that prioritizes science, tradition, agriculture and anthropology and it’s here, for you.


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BRIAN KWASNIESKI

Co-Founder

As co-founder of MDC, Brian takes particular interest in uniting the art and science of agriculture with the process of distilling. After working in and around the hospitality industry for much of his life, and then co-founding Broke in Burlington with his now-wife Leslie, Brian worked on his family’s educational, biodynamic farm in Stratton, Vermont. There, he gained an understanding of the management and structure of a small farming operation, and after becoming passionate and educated about product life cycle, Brian began producing Little Fork Vinegar, upcycling imperfect wine from Long Island’s North Fork into unique small-batch vinegars. A love of scotch drew him to the spirits world, where Brian was a sales consultant for several years. He and Leslie opened Matchbook Distilling Company in 2017.

 


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PAUL MONAHAN

Chief Marketing Officer

During his time as Global Brand Ambassador for Sailor Jerry Rum, Paul traveled extensively, amassing a deep understanding of food and beverage culture and building a recognizable, resonant brand in markets across the globe. Paul is skilled at constructing specific brand platforms and driving consumer interest––not to mention he’s an accomplished bar consultant and cocktail creator. His imaginative spirits and development of engaging events earned him a nod for Wine Enthusiast’s 2012 Mixologist/Brand Ambassador of the Year. Paul’s passion is in changing the perception of drinking culture through experiential efforts and education. At Matchbook, Paul aims to actualize an environment in which the art of distilling is accessible to anyone with an interest, and an idea.


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MATT SPINOZZI

Chief of Science & Distilling

Having earned a Masters of Science in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, Matt brings both technical and creative expertise to Matchbook’s roster. Matt’s passion is in innovation––whether that means finely honing a classic whiskey flavor profile, or finding ways to turn Jerusalem artichokes into an eau de vie. Over the course of his studies and career as a distiller and consultant, Matt has developed a deep appreciation for spirits not only academically, but also in terms of tradition. Matt collaborates with clients creating thoughtful spirits that echo practices of the past with a pronounced modern appeal.


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DEAN BABIAR

Head of Production & Development

Dean’s interest in liquid began while studying Agricultural Economics at The University of Maryland. He credits part of his education to the infamous collector-connoisseur Harvey Fry while working in Washington D.C.. After graduation, he traveled and found work developing his skills as a winemaker across five continents, specifically focusing on old school methods, minimal intervention, biodynamics and overall raw quality. Eventually, he followed his roots and continued his winemaking education at his family’s home in the Piedmont region of Italy. Dean’s career came full circle upon his return to the United States, where he assumed the role of Head Winemaker at Jamesport Vineyards in New York. His anthropological approach has brought him to Matchbook, where Dean will continue to work to preserve and uphold lost traditions in our modern distillery.

 

 
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NANCY CAMERON DUFFY

Creative Director

After growing up between America and South Africa, Nancy led a career in advertising as an Art Director for major international agencies including Ogilvy and BBDO. Eventually, she founded her own agency, which she operated for several years before launching the immersive branding, design and fabrication studio, Otherwise Wolf, in Brooklyn, New York, with her business partner and husband Josh Duffy. Nancy’s passion is in collaboration and bringing fresh, creative energy to emerging businesses. Her background and interests were well-suited in shaping not only the MDC brand, but also in offering her energy and services

 
 

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JOSH DUFFY

Director of Fabrication 

Originally hailing from London, Josh traveled the world as a set-builder, working in production for photography and fashion studios, designing installations for brands in worlds of alcohol, fashion and beyond. Since moving to New York, Josh has launched Otherwise Wolf with his wife, Nancy, and his creative designs, awareness of space, and experience in buildout has made him an indispensable consultant for pop-ups, bars and other projects.  


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