This is my big article for this week’s Herald & Tribune. Tonight I am covering the Jonesborough Planning Commission meeting to see what unfolds for this craft distilling company.
Distillery coming to Jonesborough?
Published in Jan. 21, 2014 Herald & Tribune
If all goes according to plan, a craft distilling company may come to downtown Jonesborough later this year.
Stephen Callahan, 26, a native of Jonesborough and a David Crockett High School graduate, is looking into opening a craft distillery as one of his business opportunities in Jonesborough. It would call the Salt House off Fox Street home.
A graduate of Emory and Henry College, Callahan now works at Eastman Chemical Co.
“Jonesborough is home to me and I feel like it deserves to have a good business that could offer a lot to Jonesborough, and have a lot to offer to us, too,” he said.
Callahan is looking into the distillery business because making whiskey has a deep heritage in the Appalachian Mountains.
“It fits what I do well. I am a chemistry geek,” he said. “It’s something I feel that I am good at.”
Callahan said with the craft distillery business booming across the nation, he thought it would be a unique opportunity for Jonesborough.
“We are really excited to work with the Town of Jonesborough to get this thing off the ground,” Callahan said.
Mayor Kelly Wolfe agreed that it has become quite clear that craft brewing and craft distilling are popular around the country.
“We were approached by this young man about him starting a craft distillery here in Jonesborough and have spent quite a bit of time discussing the subject with him,” Wolfe said.
“For a town dependent upon the tourist trade, this represents an excellent opportunity to add yet another attraction to draw folks to town.”
Wolfe said with much already being done with the Depot Street Brewery operation, they hope to create an overlay zone that will allow this business and others to choose to come to Jonesborough.
“He is proposing to locate the business in a historic building with a whole lot of character on its own, the Salt House, and from what I understand, is going to invest a considerable amount of money to make the craft distillery educational and technologically advanced,” Wolfe said. “This would certainly be unique to the area.”
Before Callahan can obtain federal and state permits for a craft distillery business, he must receive approval to open a facility in Jonesborough.
The Jonesborough Planning Commission will have a meeting Jan. 21 to establish an ordinance creating a distilling company overlay zone.
According to the Town of Jonesborough, the Tennessee Code allows the manufacturing of intoxicating liquors in municipalities with approval for retail liquor stores and liquor-by-the drink by referendum. Liquor manufacturers must be permitted by the federal government and must have a Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission license.
Samples of the distilled product on premise without cost to individuals of legal drinking age can be served by the manufacturer, as long as it is provided on location within the premise permitted by the federal law. Retail can also be sold on premise if the manufacturer meets the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission criteria for sales through a wholesaler.
If the overlay zone ordinance is approved, the commission will recommend it to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The ordinance will have to be approved through two readings by the BMA, including a public hearing. If the ordinance is adopted, Callahan will have to submit an application and site plan for the Planning Commission to approve.
If all goes well, Callahan hopes to have the business open later this year with his partner Logan Wise, his roommate in college who live in Knoxville but hopes to settle in Jonesborough.
“He went the business route and I went the chemistry route,” Callahan said.