Next Century Spirits, a spirits technology company born in 2018 in Raleigh, North Carolina, has closed a $6 million Series C funding round with Chapel Hill-based private equity firm Blue Hill Group, according to a press release from the company.
The funding will help Next Century continue its innovative approach to transforming how spirits get on shelves and how producers craft unique flavor profiles for changing customer palates.
Whether making whiskies, rums, tequilas or gins, craft distillers and large-scale brands alike face the same dilemma when producing their product: Time is not on their side. Next Century’s patented finishing and filtering system gives the company a competitive advantage by reducing the time table associated with distilling and aging spirits down from several years to about eight weeks.
Next Century’s patented system is designed to create customizable flavor profiles without the time associated with traditional barrel-aging methods. “We cannot claim to speed up time,” according to their website. “However, our process helps to facilitate and enhance the natural reactions that take place in a barrel and creates flavors and levels of desirable compounds often found in aged spirits from one to 20 years of age.”
You can read more about Next Century Spirits’ process here.
With the current uncertainty around the future of bars and restaurants in a post-pandemic world, a distillery technology company may seem like an unlikely investment. But Blue Hill Group’s funding suggests Next Century has found an innovative edge in a competitive market.
“I am continually impressed with Next Century’s ability to provide high-quality spirits through its proprietary technology which is uniquely positioned for continued growth in the industry,” said Board member Steve Lerner of the Blue Hill Group. “The company has established a foothold in the market as startups and established brands alike look to innovation for a more diverse product portfolio to scale their business.”
Quick-aging spirits have found a niche as consumer preferences and brand identities have changed over recent years. Nick Scarff, Next Century Spirit’s Head Blender, spoke about innovation within the spirits industry while at the White Label World Expo US in Las Vegas, in March. Scarff noted that many lifestyle companies, hospitality groups and even celebrities have started adding private liquor labels to their product lines.
Additionally, their post distillation finishing and filtering technology spirits may help keep up with Millennials and Gen X-er’s desire for more experimental flavor options from craft brands.
Next Century’s technologies have already been recognized across the industry, as the company won “Best-in-Class” Rum in April of this year from the American Distilling Institute.
One of its biggest brands, Durham-based Creek Water Whiskey, is distributed across the Southeast and the Mid-Atlantic.