Get to know
Next Century Spirits

Established in Raleigh, NC in 2018, Next Century Spirits blends together traditional techniques and unique finishing technologies to create enhanced distilled spirits. Our patented post distillation filtering and finishing 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, resulting in the ability to create bold and unique flavor customization options for brands to choose from in order to expand product portfolios and fulfill market needs.

Our Story

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. 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 filtering and finishing 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 bold and unique flavor profiles. 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.

Our Team

ROB MASON

CO-CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
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Rob Mason is the Co-CEO of Next Century Spirits after previously serving as the company's Chief Operating Officer. Rob brings a unique view in the spirits industry with over 20 years of experience in global marketing for consumer brands represented by Beam Suntory, Diageo, and Procter & Gamble. Rob has led some of the world’s most iconic spirits brands, including Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, Crown Royal, and Johnnie Walker, among others. He brings a breadth of global spirits experience having lived abroad in Geneva, Switzerland and managing Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark at the global level. Aside from consistently delivering against business goals, Rob is known for his expertise in brand management, brand strategy, and innovation. Rob holds a BS from Miami University in Oxford OH and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Rob currently lives in Deerfield, IL with his wife Emily, two children, and their Golden Doodle.

ANTHONY MONIELLO

CO-CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
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Anthony Moniello Moniello leads the Next Century Brand Group, a new division primarily focused on the marketing and sales of Next Century owned brands and key partnerships. In parallel, Moniello overseas the management and expansion of distributor relationships with an emphasis on creating bespoke RTM strategies that fit each brand. Prior to joining NCS Anthony worked with Diageo for nine years in several leadership roles across sales, marketing, and consumer planning. His successful track record deploying brand activation and field marketing activities for innovation brands like Creek Water and industry stalwarts like Tanqueray Gin, Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan Rum, and Don Julio Tequila will help him create and implement a growth model for NCS owned brands into the future. Anthony currently lives in Fairfield, CT with his wife Ashley and their two sons, Dominic and Christopher Anthony.

TOM SPISAK

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
Read Bio

Tom Spisak joins New Century Spirits after over 3 years with Reed’s Inc where he served as Chief Financial Officer. During his time at Reed’s, he played an important role in bringing more financial discipline, establishing key banking relationships, and guiding the company during a challenging, macro-inflationary environment. Prior to joining Reed’s, Tom provided financial leadership, including extensive expertise over a broad range of finance functions during his 26-year tenure in the North America region of Diageo, a multinational alcoholic beverage company with net sales over UK £12.9 billion (U.S. $16 billion). Tom held numerous positions in multiple divisions of Diageo, most recently serving as Vice President of Finance and Controller of North America. Previously, he held positions of Vice President of Commercial Finance, Director of Business Performance and Senior Finance Director of Marketing and Innovation Decision Support, as well as other roles in finance. Prior to Diageo, Tom served at International Masters Publishers, Inc., a private company with publishing activities in 35 countries. Tom holds an MBA in International Business from Fairfield University and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Rhode Island.

JOEL PAWLAK

CO-FOUNDER
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Joel Pawlak is a Co-founder of Next Century Spirits. An NC State University Associate Professor of Forest Biomaterials, Dr. Pawlak’s research interests include the creation of new materials from forest resources using physical and biological manipulation of the polymer structure, and he has received a number of awards for his research. During a 2009 scholarly leave to UNC-Chapel Hill, his work resulted in an interdisciplinary graduate program of study between the Forest Biomaterials and Microbiology departments at NC State University. He is a recognized expert in the field of paper physics and has served as a private consultant for more than 20 companies. Dr. Pawlak currently resides in Raleigh with his wife, Leslie, and three children.

ARJUN RAJARATNAM

general counsel
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Arjun has held senior roles in corporate legal, compliance and risk management departments. His positions have included: global chief compliance officer, chief risk officer and executive committee member. He has practiced law at a large U.S. law firm, and in-house at large pharmaceutical companies.

STEVE GORDON

VP of Marketing
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Steve Gordon is the VP of Marketing for the Next Century Brand Group where he leads connecting NCBG’s owned brands to consumers. He has spent the last 15 years in marketing and sales leadership roles with Pernod Ricard USA where he had the opportunity to work on some of the world’s most iconic brands as well as new to world innovations. Mr. Gordon’s success as a commercially driven marketer will be essential in the growth and development of the NCBG portfolio. Steve currently lives Flower Mound, Texas with his wife, Nina, and their two daughters.

ADAM COOK

VP OF OPERATIONS
Read Bio

Adam Cook serves as Vice President of Operations for Next Century Spirits. Over the last 15 years, Adam has held several leadership positions in a variety of strategic operational and supply chain roles with Beam Suntory. Adam has led major operational implementations, overseeing global supply chain activities and strategy across several commercial spirits portfolios, including but not limited to the integration of production from multiple facilities and from the acquisition of brands such as Pinnacle vodka, Cruzan rum and Calico Jack rum. In his role as VP of operations Adam manages our centralized distribution while continuously driving process improvements in the areas of forecasting, demand planning, supply planning, inventory management and launch management, while implementing and optimizing complex ERP and S&OP and 3PL projects. Adam is in the process of relocating from Kentucky to Raleigh with his wife Kayla and their four children.

SHARI BAXTER

VP OF BEVERAGE DEVELOPMENT
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Shari Baxter is the Vice President of Beverage Development at Next Century Spirits. She leads product development and manages strategic relationships with customers, suppliers, and other partners in the spirits industry. Shari brings over 15 years of experience in spirits beverage development. Prior to this role, Shari lead R&D/Beverage Development for both Coastal Pure Beverages and Green River Spirits Company. She has worked in R&D at Beam Suntory and also led the adult beverage private label brands for Sam’s Club. Shari holds a Ph.D. from University of Maine in Food Science. When she is not at work, Shari enjoys spending time with her husband Dustin, three children and two dogs.

NIALL LITTLE

VP OF SALES
Read Bio

Originally from Ireland, Niall leads our sales and execution for the NCS own brands. With 20 years of sales management experience managing a variety of breweries and distilleries throughout the country, Niall most recently served as Vice President of Sales at Lexington Brewing & Distilling in Kentucky. Before Lexington Brewing he managed and executed at Founders Brewing Company iconic brands such as All Day IPA turning it into the #1 selling IPA in America. Niall's success is driven by strong working relationships and a strong focus on detail and execution. Niall resides in Chicago suburbs with his wife Trina and two children Eoin & Jack.

EZEKIEL BRONFMAN

VP of Business Development and Corporate Strategy
Read Bio

Zeke is Vice President of Business Development and Strategy at Next Century Spirits. Prior to NCS, Zeke was Co-Founder and CEO of XED Beverages, a venture backed portfolio of better-for-you alcohol brands that was acquired by NCS in 2022. Zeke attended Williams College in Massachusetts and grew up in New York City.

NATHAN MEDOW

VP OF GROWTH AND SPECIAL PROJECTS
Read Bio

Nate is a finance and operations enthusiast, who currently leads special projects and growth initiatives at Next Century Spirits. He is also heavily involved in process improvement, managing large B2B client relationships, and Direct to Consumer initiatives. Nate's experience as a co-founder of XED Beverage Company, which was acquired by Next Century Spirits in 2022, was pivotal in expanding their core brand, SESH, to distribution in over 2,000 accounts, including Kroger, Winn Dixie, and MetLife Stadium. Notably, Nate's personal experience as a Type 1 diabetic fueled his passion for co-founding SESH, a company that aims to reduce sugar intake in canned cocktails. Under his leadership, SESH sold over 50,000 cases prior to its acquisition, removing over 80,000 pounds of sugar from the typical American diet. Nate's extensive expertise in finance and operations, coupled with his dedication to promoting healthier lifestyle choices, make him an invaluable asset to the Next Century Spirits team.

DEEPAK RAJ

Director of Business Strategy Japan and SE Asia
Read Bio

Deepak Raj serves as the Director of Business Development for Japan and SE Asia for Next Century Spirits. He has lived, worked and done business in Japan for over 25 years. He has a Masters in Business and a Law degree from Delhi University. After a brief stint with Law firms in India and London, he moved to Japan, working closely with companies like Mitsubishi, Glico, Kirin Technologies, Teijin, Itoman, Fuji Films etc. RAJ SAN, as he is called in Japan - has worked with some of the well known Japanese multinationals, which has given him a vast exposure to a wide range of experiences and opportunities. Deepak has traveled extensively all across the Asian & Middle Eastern markets, for conducting his own Export - Import business from Japan, he understands the pulse of all these markets quite well. His multicultural & multilingual background have helped his personality and perspective blend in a very unique way, which values the power of connections, mutual trust and relationships in building stronger businesses. He lives in Charlotte with his parents, wife Sayoko, while their son is a boiler maker pursuing his Engineering at Purdue.

ROB MASON

ROB MASON

CO-CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Read Bio

Rob Mason is the Co-CEO of Next Century Spirits after previously serving as the company's Chief Operating Officer. Rob brings a unique view in the spirits industry with over 20 years of experience in global marketing for consumer brands represented by Beam Suntory, Diageo, and Procter & Gamble. Rob has led some of the world’s most iconic spirits brands, including Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, Crown Royal, and Johnnie Walker, among others. He brings a breadth of global spirits experience having lived abroad in Geneva, Switzerland and managing Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark at the global level. Aside from consistently delivering against business goals, Rob is known for his expertise in brand management, brand strategy, and innovation. Rob holds a BS from Miami University in Oxford OH and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Rob currently lives in Deerfield, IL with his wife Emily, two children, and their Golden Doodle.

ANTHONY MONIELLO

ANTHONY MONIELLO

CO-CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Read Bio

Anthony Moniello Moniello leads the Next Century Brand Group, a new division primarily focused on the marketing and sales of Next Century owned brands and key partnerships. In parallel, Moniello overseas the management and expansion of distributor relationships with an emphasis on creating bespoke RTM strategies that fit each brand. Prior to joining NCS Anthony worked with Diageo for nine years in several leadership roles across sales, marketing, and consumer planning. His successful track record deploying brand activation and field marketing activities for innovation brands like Creek Water and industry stalwarts like Tanqueray Gin, Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan Rum, and Don Julio Tequila will help him create and implement a growth model for NCS owned brands into the future. Anthony currently lives in Fairfield, CT with his wife Ashley and their two sons, Dominic and Christopher Anthony.

TOM SPISAK

TOM SPISAK

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Read Bio

Tom Spisak joins New Century Spirits after over 3 years with Reed’s Inc where he served as Chief Financial Officer. During his time at Reed’s, he played an important role in bringing more financial discipline, establishing key banking relationships, and guiding the company during a challenging, macro-inflationary environment. Prior to joining Reed’s, Tom provided financial leadership, including extensive expertise over a broad range of finance functions during his 26-year tenure in the North America region of Diageo, a multinational alcoholic beverage company with net sales over UK £12.9 billion (U.S. $16 billion). Tom held numerous positions in multiple divisions of Diageo, most recently serving as Vice President of Finance and Controller of North America. Previously, he held positions of Vice President of Commercial Finance, Director of Business Performance and Senior Finance Director of Marketing and Innovation Decision Support, as well as other roles in finance. Prior to Diageo, Tom served at International Masters Publishers, Inc., a private company with publishing activities in 35 countries. Tom holds an MBA in International Business from Fairfield University and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Rhode Island.

JOEL PAWLAK

JOEL PAWLAK

CO-FOUNDER

Read Bio

Joel Pawlak is a Co-founder of Next Century Spirits. An NC State University Associate Professor of Forest Biomaterials, Dr. Pawlak’s research interests include the creation of new materials from forest resources using physical and biological manipulation of the polymer structure, and he has received a number of awards for his research. During a 2009 scholarly leave to UNC-Chapel Hill, his work resulted in an interdisciplinary graduate program of study between the Forest Biomaterials and Microbiology departments at NC State University. He is a recognized expert in the field of paper physics and has served as a private consultant for more than 20 companies. Dr. Pawlak currently resides in Raleigh with his wife, Leslie, and three children.

ARJUN RAJARATNAM

ARJUN RAJARATNAM

general counsel

Read Bio

Arjun has held senior roles in corporate legal, compliance and risk management departments. His positions have included: global chief compliance officer, chief risk officer and executive committee member. He has practiced law at a large U.S. law firm, and in-house at large pharmaceutical companies.

STEVE GORDON

STEVE GORDON

VP of Marketing

Read Bio

Steve Gordon is the VP of Marketing for the Next Century Brand Group where he leads connecting NCBG’s owned brands to consumers. He has spent the last 15 years in marketing and sales leadership roles with Pernod Ricard USA where he had the opportunity to work on some of the world’s most iconic brands as well as new to world innovations. Mr. Gordon’s success as a commercially driven marketer will be essential in the growth and development of the NCBG portfolio. Steve currently lives Flower Mound, Texas with his wife, Nina, and their two daughters.

ADAM COOK

ADAM COOK

VP OF OPERATIONS

Read Bio

Adam Cook serves as Vice President of Operations for Next Century Spirits. Over the last 15 years, Adam has held several leadership positions in a variety of strategic operational and supply chain roles with Beam Suntory. Adam has led major operational implementations, overseeing global supply chain activities and strategy across several commercial spirits portfolios, including but not limited to the integration of production from multiple facilities and from the acquisition of brands such as Pinnacle vodka, Cruzan rum and Calico Jack rum. In his role as VP of operations Adam manages our centralized distribution while continuously driving process improvements in the areas of forecasting, demand planning, supply planning, inventory management and launch management, while implementing and optimizing complex ERP and S&OP and 3PL projects. Adam is in the process of relocating from Kentucky to Raleigh with his wife Kayla and their four children.

SHARI BAXTER

SHARI BAXTER

VP OF BEVERAGE DEVELOPMENT

Read Bio

Shari Baxter is the Vice President of Beverage Development at Next Century Spirits. She leads product development and manages strategic relationships with customers, suppliers, and other partners in the spirits industry. Shari brings over 15 years of experience in spirits beverage development. Prior to this role, Shari lead R&D/Beverage Development for both Coastal Pure Beverages and Green River Spirits Company. She has worked in R&D at Beam Suntory and also led the adult beverage private label brands for Sam’s Club. Shari holds a Ph.D. from University of Maine in Food Science. When she is not at work, Shari enjoys spending time with her husband Dustin, three children and two dogs.

NIALL LITTLE

NIALL LITTLE

VP OF SALES

Read Bio

Originally from Ireland, Niall leads our sales and execution for the NCS own brands. With 20 years of sales management experience managing a variety of breweries and distilleries throughout the country, Niall most recently served as Vice President of Sales at Lexington Brewing & Distilling in Kentucky. Before Lexington Brewing he managed and executed at Founders Brewing Company iconic brands such as All Day IPA turning it into the #1 selling IPA in America. Niall's success is driven by strong working relationships and a strong focus on detail and execution. Niall resides in Chicago suburbs with his wife Trina and two children Eoin & Jack.

EZEKIEL BRONFMAN

EZEKIEL BRONFMAN

VP of Business Development and Corporate Strategy

Read Bio

Zeke is Vice President of Business Development and Strategy at Next Century Spirits. Prior to NCS, Zeke was Co-Founder and CEO of XED Beverages, a venture backed portfolio of better-for-you alcohol brands that was acquired by NCS in 2022. Zeke attended Williams College in Massachusetts and grew up in New York City.

NATHAN MEDOW

NATHAN MEDOW

VP OF GROWTH AND SPECIAL PROJECTS

Read Bio

Nate is a finance and operations enthusiast, who currently leads special projects and growth initiatives at Next Century Spirits. He is also heavily involved in process improvement, managing large B2B client relationships, and Direct to Consumer initiatives. Nate's experience as a co-founder of XED Beverage Company, which was acquired by Next Century Spirits in 2022, was pivotal in expanding their core brand, SESH, to distribution in over 2,000 accounts, including Kroger, Winn Dixie, and MetLife Stadium. Notably, Nate's personal experience as a Type 1 diabetic fueled his passion for co-founding SESH, a company that aims to reduce sugar intake in canned cocktails. Under his leadership, SESH sold over 50,000 cases prior to its acquisition, removing over 80,000 pounds of sugar from the typical American diet. Nate's extensive expertise in finance and operations, coupled with his dedication to promoting healthier lifestyle choices, make him an invaluable asset to the Next Century Spirits team.

DEEPAK RAJ

DEEPAK RAJ

Director of Business Strategy Japan and SE Asia

Read Bio

Deepak Raj serves as the Director of Business Development for Japan and SE Asia for Next Century Spirits. He has lived, worked and done business in Japan for over 25 years. He has a Masters in Business and a Law degree from Delhi University. After a brief stint with Law firms in India and London, he moved to Japan, working closely with companies like Mitsubishi, Glico, Kirin Technologies, Teijin, Itoman, Fuji Films etc. RAJ SAN, as he is called in Japan - has worked with some of the well known Japanese multinationals, which has given him a vast exposure to a wide range of experiences and opportunities. Deepak has traveled extensively all across the Asian & Middle Eastern markets, for conducting his own Export - Import business from Japan, he understands the pulse of all these markets quite well. His multicultural & multilingual background have helped his personality and perspective blend in a very unique way, which values the power of connections, mutual trust and relationships in building stronger businesses. He lives in Charlotte with his parents, wife Sayoko, while their son is a boiler maker pursuing his Engineering at Purdue.

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