Established in Raleigh, NC in 2018, Next Century Spirits blends together traditional techniques and unique finishing technologies to create enhanced distilled spirits. Our new processing technology creates a tool for the traditional distiller to expand their repertoire of achievable flavors and aromas while improving quality, maintaining consistency, and reducing supply chain issues. This technology allows for tight control over the entire production process and maturation system, resulting in the ability to create bold, complex flavor profiles faster than any other distilled spirits group in the world.
Joel (Pawlak) Co-Founder and VP of R&D grew up on a farm, splitting time between working the land and taking apart bicycles to see how they worked. In college he went for engineering, but never lost his love of the land; when the opportunity arose to become a paper engineer, he jumped at the chance. He has since spent his career solving problems using wood technology, making better use of wood resources, making products more sustainable. The concept for the Next Century technology arose from these interests as well as his love of whiskeys.
Joel had had a casual conversation with a friend who is prominent in the spirits business about the huge need for technology to improve processes and scale manufacturing, and he started to sketch ideas on paper. When he talked through those ideas with Scott (Bolin) Co-Founder and CEO (they had worked together on other projects and were actually in the process of setting up a lab), he was interested. The team prototyped and iterated, improving every time, eventually generating very high-quality products. “That is when the stars began aligning.”
The company’s patented technology was born out of North Carolina State University, a land-grant university known for its contributions to the sciences. Co-Founder of Next Century and chemist by profession, Joel Pawlak, discovered the proprietary finishing technology’s ability to create flavor profiles similar to spirits that usually take years to mature before consumption by combining the traditional whiskey distilling process. The technology allows Next Century to provide up to 6,000 gallons of spirits to bulk labels at once. Alternatively, Next Century works directly with private labels and brand identities to create custom distilled spirits.
While quality and efficiency are primary objectives, Next Century Spirits is also equally committed to sustainable, eco-friendly products. Our technology allows us to minimize the amount of wood used to age our whiskeys, rums, and tequilas, which, in turn, greatly reduces the number of trees cut down in the process.
Traditionally, aged spirits must spend long periods of time in oak barrels. The best cuts of oak wood, used in coopering, come from the heart of the tree, resulting in the loss of one adult tree for every three barrels made. Oftentimes, the trees selected for harvesting are over 100 years old, making this an unsustainable practice. On top of this, most whiskey must be stored in new, virgin casks, meaning that the barrels often can’t be easily recycled within sections of the whiskey industry. With large distilleries running through over 1.5 million barrels a year, its obvious to see where improvements in sustainability can be made.
Our new production facility, located in Durham, NC, is also fitted with a large solar panel array, reducing our energy footprint and making us part of the largest solar-powered whiskey distillery in the world.