Raleigh-based Next Century Spirits has a new face to go with its latest drink creation—and just in time to unveil during this week’s famed Masters Tournament, the first of golf’s four majors.
Greg Norman is a legendary Australian golfer who spent 331 weeks as the world’s No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Rankings, then seamlessly moved into another career of dominance as an entrepreneur, including an international wine and alcohol business. Now the “Great White Shark” is the partner promoting Next Century Spirits’ Caddy Clubhouse Cocktails.
The Caddy Clubhouse Cocktails are available in two flavors. The Transfusion is a vodka-based, carbonated craft cocktail with grape, lime and ginger flavors, while the Half & Half is made with vodka, iced tea and lemon flavors. Tying in with the golf theme, you can think of the Half & Half as a spiked Arnold Palmer.
During early discussions last year with Authentic Brands Group, which represents Norman, Next Century Brands saw the opportunity to create a product that fit well into Norman’s current labels. Notably, the golf audience—especially at the course itself—was an underserved segment, said Next Century Spirits Co-Founder and CEO Scott Bolin said. Norman’s company already has extensive distribution channels to golf courses.
And a ready-to-drink can was the perfect format for what customers are looking for these days, often preferring these over mixing a drink themselves, according to Bolin. That’s especially true when you’re trying to hack out of the rough.
“We found drinks that are very popular on the golf course, and we converted them into this format that people really want to have, which is the can,” Bolin said. “The feedback so far has been really good. It’s one of those things where when you suggest it, you’ve gotten, ‘this obviously should have already existed.’”
The drinks should be available in North Carolina liquor stores starting in a couple weeks. The launch coincides with the Masters Tournament as well as upcoming media promotion for Norman in the golf space.
Norman has been one of the most relevant names in golf for decades, but he’s going to be even more prominent now, Bolin hinted. (Sorry, no spoilers.)
In recent years, Next Century Spirits has released other drinks, expanding from its roots in B2B production solutions. (We first wrote about the startup in 2019.) Two drinks in particular have found especially notable success: Creek Water, Next Century’s American whiskey that partners with hip hop artist Yelawolf; and the spirit Bear Fight, which is a new category akin to an American take on scotch.
Securing a partner like Greg Norman takes Next Century’s appeal and development potential to the next level.
“Having somebody with a global pull like Greg Norman allows us to get access to distributors and spread the portfolio around much faster than if we were just doing Bear Fight, just Creek Water,” Bolin said. “So we’re getting a synergy effect that allows us to staff up and really execute on a more national scale.”
While many companies found themselves in trouble as they navigated the unforeseen realities of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bolin said Next Century Spirits has only grown during this time. They even opened up their first wholly owned production facility in Zebulon two weeks ago.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth every year despite things like Covid and international pressure, so today’s headache is just getting ships to leave the port to get to our clients and other parts of the world,” Bolin said.
Bolin said the past few years have shown the increased value of startups being able to capitalize on opportunities when they see them and execute them well.
“Particularly for early-stage companies and startups like ours, it’s really important to be flexible and agile,” Bolin said. “The uncertainties of the world are going to continue for some time, so being able to react quickly is going to be really crucial for anybody that’s starting a company because you can’t rely on what happened last year to predict what will happen this year.”