“Embracing heritage”

Distillery ready to open in new year

Published in Herald & Tribune Dec. 24, 2014 issue

As of last week, Tennessee Hills Distillery can officially manufacture and distribute alcohol in the state of Tennessee, bringing the Jonesborough business one step closer to opening the doors early next year.

“I can’t believe it still,” Stephen Callahan, owner of Tennessee Hills Distillery, said of making progress in following his dreams and his moonshine roots. “Now we have to get our labels approved and wait on our first shipment of bottles and get our souvenir line in order.”

He hopes to open the doors if not by the middle of January, definitely by Feb. 1.

“I want to get the doors open, but want to make sure we can operate in a safe and efficient manner,” Callahan said.

The process of opening the distillery, which began in early 2014, has been steadily moving along. Callahan and his brother, David, have been working side-by-side turning the Salt House into the new home for the Tennessee Hills Distillery applying the business’ motto “embracing heritage” every step of the way.

“We built the stills in house, did renovations in the building specific to our needs. My brother and I did the iron gates, the tasting bar, the glass walls,” Callahan said. “Every piece of equipment, my brother and I fabricated in there.”

All the equipment needed to operate the business is now in the building.

The 300-gallon and 150-gallon copper stills were designed by Callahan.

“We built those in the Salt House pretty much right where they are sitting. I think that speaks a lot for our craftsmanship. We want equipment that is a work of art rather than just serving its purpose to make liquor,” he said. “We are really passionate about what we do. We want to get people a product made with passion and very high quality too.”

The still gives Callahan a wide range in terms of the product that can be made at the Salt House. He said he can make corn liquor that has a lot of flavor to vodka that has no flavor.

“We have a lot of versatility in the Salt House as far as the product,” he said, adding that everything will be made in small batches and hand-bottled.

The tasting bar was pieced together with chestnut that came from an old family barn that was more than a 150 years old.

“It was in really good condition in the barn,” he said. “I figured it would be a perfect place to put it on display.”

Callahan said the distillery is going to be a nice place to stop in, take a tour, have some tastings and hopefully buy a bottle of whiskey.

The outside of the building has also been enhanced with shrubs and a crosswalk. The loading dock, weather permitting, should be installed early next week.

“Jonesborough has been behind us 100 percent from the time I came to town and pitched my idea,” he said. “They helped us put in the crosswalks and have a nice venue.”

In addition to getting the Salt House ready for business, Callahan said they have already harvested crops for the operation. Eighty-eight acres or about 10,000 bushels of corn, were harvested from Callahan’s family farm in November and stored in a silo at Shell Mill in Jonesborough.

“That should last us hopefully for three quarters of the year, maybe the first full year,” he said.

Callahan said everything they are doing will be ground in an antique 1940s model stone mill because it adds to their businesses story.

“That’s pretty special,” he said. “We gave him (Mark Shell) a whole new business aspect. We are going to be using a lot of corn.”

Callahan said when crops are stone ground, they tend to keep a lot of their flavor profile.

The grains that are leftover, will feed the livestock on Callahan’s 100-acre family farm. He said they are getting ready to buy some more cattle to consume the access grain.

“It’s all going to be pretty personal and full circle,” he said of the process. “Everything is pretty much in Jonesborough and that’s how I like to keep it.”

He said they are waiting on barley to be delivered, which should arrive at any time.

The business will have a quick turnaround for their product due to grains being delivered to the Salt House every seven to 10 days.

Callahan said hopefully by March or April, they will have all of the flavors produced that are going to be released and available at the Salt House.

Callahan said he believes his business will be very well received once the doors are open.

“Our story, being from the oldest town, and being in a 174 year old building, and kind of preserving a historical site, and making it a functional historical building, is special to me,” he said. “That is being a part of history.”


Other articles about the distillery I’ve written:

January 2014

Distillery coming to Jonesborough?

https://meghan80.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/distillery-coming-to-jonesborough/

Proposed distillery gets planning comission OK

https://meghan80.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/a-made-with-love-distilling-company/


February 2014

With one ‘no’ vote cast . . . Future downtown distillery clears next hurdle

https://meghan80.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/an-authentic-tennessee-moonshine-distillery/?relatedposts_hit=1&relatedposts_origin=3630&relatedposts_position=0


March 2014

Board gives distillery final approval

https://meghan80.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/its-a-huge-victory/


‘Embracing Heritage’

I have been writing about Tennessee Hills Distillery since the beginning of the year for the Herald & Tribune, a weekly newspaper in Jonesborough, Tennessee. It’s been fun following Stephen’s story and seeing the progress over the last few months.

Distillery slowly emerges on Fox Street

Published Herald & Tribune July 1, 2014

The home of Tennessee Hills Distillery is coming to life as renovations are completed and the installation of equipment will soon be under way.

Stephen Callahan, the sole owner of Tennessee Hills Distillery, said the business’ motto, “embracing heritage,” has been applied to everything that has been done since the beginning of the year.

Stephen Callahan operates the historic elevator in what will soon become Jonesborough’s new distillery. Photo Credit Charlie Mauk.

Stephen Callahan operates the historic elevator in what will soon become Jonesborough’s new distillery.
Photo Credit Charlie Mauk.

He said it is important to him to respect the building, the Salt House, and the history of moonshine and whiskey.

“It’s kind of our way to preserve history,” he explained.

History runs deep in Callahan’s family.

“My granddaddy was a preacher and he made whiskey,” he said. “My other granddaddy was a bootlegger.”

When Callahan made his dream job a reality, opening a distillery, he wanted to include the people closest to him — his brother David and best friend, Buddy Arrowood.

“Hopefully we are going to run a successful business,” he said.

Callahan said Doug Lowrie, the owner of the Salt House, has been very accommodating throughout the redesigning process. He said he’s been able to craft the building into the best facility for the distillery by maximizing the space.

The Salt House has gone through a transformation to prepare it for a tentative October opening.

The first thing Callahan tackled was the floors on the bottom level.

“There were no floors downstairs,” he said. “There were dirt floors.”

Concrete footers were poured under the floor that was installed so it could hold the weight of the equipment, which will include a 300-gallon still and three 600-gallon fermenters.

Instead of purchasing a still from Confederate Stills of Alabama, which was Callahan’s original plan, he decided to construct his own. This will allow him to have the exact type and shape of still that he wants.

“I really believe in doing things ourselves. Any old moonshiner should be able to build his own still,” he said, adding that by building his own still it can become a showpiece for the business.

The still should take no more than two weeks to build.

Once the equipment is installed, a 15-foot tasting bar will be constructed with copper details, as well as copper fume hoods over the equipment.

After the floors were finished, the interior walls were redone while keeping the old rustic feel of the Salt House. Callahan said they left the bare bricks on the walls to keep the original decor.

wpid-20140625_155610.jpgThe “coolest” part about renovating the Salt House was working on the elevator, he explained.

“The elevator was an essential asset in the building,” Callahan said.

The hand-operated elevator will be used for moving inventory from downstairs to the second floor.

“The alcohol will be taken upstairs on the elevator to the bottling stations,” he said. “The elevator will be able to move grains and materials that are packaged and ready to ship. It will be an all-purpose elevator.”

He said he and his brother renovated the elevator by replacing all the cables. The original gears were kept, as well as the carriage and original hand rope.

While working on the elevator, he learned from an elevator preservation group that it is probably the only one in the state of Tennessee like it and one of the few in the country.

“It’s one of the first actual elevators installed in the whole country,” Callahan said.

The second floor of the Salt House had a drop ceiling added. The ceiling went from 17 feet to 12 feet, he said because they wanted to save on the heat and air in the building.

Overall, Callahan made sure the building was structurally sound for his business.

The outside of the building also received a face-lift.

On June 26, a new brick sidewalk and granite curbs were scheduled to be installed outside of the Salt House. Callahan said an entrance ramp to the front door also will be installed.

“The city is going to put a walkway across the road to match the Town of Jonesborough,” he said. “It’s a safety improvement for people visiting the distillery.”

Shrubs and flowers and a front patio with rocking chairs also will grace the entrance of the business.

The loading dock and gravel driveway will be added toward the end of July.

“Once you see the loading dock, we are close to opening up,” Callahan said.

A flag pole will eventually be raised outside of the building. Callahan said he wants to have a Prisoner of War flag outside of his business because his uncle was captured in the Korean War and didn’t survive.

The flag, he said, will recognize his uncle and other veterans who never made it home.

“I’m working with the Rolling Thunder and the veteran’s organization to help us have a ceremony when the time comes to raise the flag,” Callahan said. “It will let people of Jonesborough know who we are and what kind of company we want to be. We want to enhance Jonesborough.”

On Saturday, Aug. 30, Tennessee Hills Distillery will host Wheels in the Hills event, which will entail a poker run and car cruising, as well as bands and a barbecue. The proceeds from the event will go toward Shop with a Cop, a Jonesborough-based charity.

Eventually, Callahan hopes to make some Irish whiskey at the distillery because his family migrated from Ireland and he wants to keep the tradition of making Irish whiskey alive.

“I want to make a unique product that is near and dear to our hearts,” he said.

 

Other articles about the distillery:

Distillery coming to Jonesborough?, Published Jan. 21, 2014

https://meghan80.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/distillery-coming-to-jonesborough/

Proposed distillery gets planning comission OK, Published Jan. 28, 2014

https://meghan80.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/a-made-with-love-distilling-company/

With one ‘no’ vote cast . . . Future downtown distillery clears next hurdle, Published Feb. 18, 2014

https://meghan80.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/an-authentic-tennessee-moonshine-distillery/?relatedposts_hit=1&relatedposts_origin=3630&relatedposts_position=0

Board gives distillery final approval, Published March 18, 2014

https://meghan80.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/its-a-huge-victory/

 

“It’s a huge victory”

A few weeks ago I attended the final meeting concerning the craft distillery coming to Jonesborough. With the support of the Mayor and Aldermen, Stephen can continue to pursue his dream.

An email I received from Stephen after the article ran in the Herald & Tribune:

“I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you and everyone else involved how much I appreciate the positive articles pertaining to my distillery. The articles that you have written portrays us well and that will carry the distillery very far in the local markets! If I can do anything to assist you in any way please feel free to ask. Thanks again and I hope to hear from you soon!”

Board gives distillery final approval

Callahan gets ready to realize dream

Published March 18, 2004 in Herald & Tribune

With the final approval from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Stephen Callahan is now ready to continue his dream of opening a moonshine craft distillery in the Town of Jonesborough.

“I think it’s a huge victory, not only for us, but for Jonesborough,” Stephen Callahan said last week. “We have something to give Jonesborough. We are really happy that Jonesborough decided to allow us to come to town.”

The Board of Mayor and Alderman approved the second and final reading amending the Jonesborough Zoning Map, which establishes the location of the Distilling Company Overlay District Zone, during the March 10 meeting. The zone includes the manufacturing zones in the Depot Street area and in the Salt House, Parsons Table parking lot and the Parsons Table/Widow Brown’s lot area.

The BMA also approved the second and final reading for the Distilling Company Overlay District zone, which allows a liquor distillery to be located in certain areas in Jonesborough.

Alderman Homer G’Fellers was not present.

“I am really satisfied,” Callahan said. “I really appreciate all the support that everyone has expressed throughout the process, especially the city officials and the people of Jonesborough.”

Although the only opposition the craft distillery received was from G’Fellers, Callahan said board members had been very open-minded and willing to work for the best throughout the process.

“They are inceptive to our idea,” he said. “That shows us that we have a future here in Jonesborough. That tells us where we can be as a company in the next year. We have a big support group and a town behind us. That is what it is going to take to get this business off the ground; local support and we have that.”

With the proper zoning approved from the Town of Jonesborough, Callahan hopes to open the craft distillery by this fall.

“It’s a big process to take on and we are going to take it one day at a time,” Callahan said.

A formal lease has been worked up and completed with Doug Lowrie, the owner of the Salt House.

Renovations to the Salt House should be done before the end of the month.  Once the equipment comes in later this summer from Confederate Stills of Alabama, Callahan said finishing touches will be made.

The equipment will include a peanut oil boiler to cut down the energy usage, making Callahan’s distillery the first in the country to have that specific still.

“Now that we have a formal lease we can go ahead and start getting our bonds and file for our federal license,” Callahan said.

The process typically takes about six months to complete.

“We are at the mercy of the government in terms of licensing,” he said, adding that it could be less or more than six months.

The craft distillery also received its trademark for its name, Tennessee Hills Distillery LLC.

“This thing has the potential to go nationwide and the potential to outgrow our capacity fairly quickly,” Callahan said. “We already have plans to build a production facility. As long as we are in business, we will always have the Salt House as our store front. That is still our history and that is where we will be as long as we are in business.”

His hope is to eventually collaborate with other distilleries in a 100-mile radius, so everyone can help each other out.

“We all have a passion to do one thing and that is to make good alcohol,” Callahan said.

He said he also wants the Town of Jonesborough to know he will operate the distillery with respect for the community and willingness to work with others.

 

‘An authentic Tennessee moonshine distillery’

This article has been an ongoing topic I have been covering for the last month or so for the Herald & Tribune. A young Jonesborough resident is slowly clearing hurdle after hurdle to put a craft distillery in downtown Jonesborough, Tenn.

For my past articles click on the links below:

Distillery coming to Jonesborough:

https://meghan80.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/distillery-coming-to-jonesborough/

Proposed distillery gets planning OK: https://meghan80.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/a-made-with-love-distilling-company/

With one ‘no’ vote cast . . .

Future downtown distillery clears next hurdle

Published in Feb. 18, 2014 Herald & Tribune

Stephen Callahan, who hopes to open a distillery in downtown Jonesborough later this year, received nearly the full support of the Board of Mayor and Alderman during an ordinances first reading last week – minus one vote.

Alderman Homer G’Fellers voted against the ordinance, he said, because of his personal beliefs.

“I have never voted for any type of alcohol in the town of Jonesborough,” he said.

G’Fellers said he believes a small quaint town like Jonesborough does not need a distillery business.  That belief, he said has nothing to do with the distillery itself or Callahan.

“We are really excited that we got the blessing of the Mayor and the Alderman’s,” Callahan said the next day. “We are really happy with last night’s outcome. That is a big victory and it makes me feel a lot better personally to know the mayor and alderman have supported this.”

The board’s approval, Callahan said, reassured him and his supporters that they are doing something possible and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel in regards to opening a distillery in town.

The BMA approved an ordinance that creates a Distilling Company Overlay Zone, as well as an amendment for the Jonesborough Zoning map. The map provides Callahan with the opportunity to submit a site plan when applying for state and federal permits.

Although the state allows for the manufacturing of wine or liquor, the town determines where a distillery can be located within town limits. An overlay zone is established for appropriate locations by the town for retail liquor stores.

“This is not about a specific venue yet,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe said. “It’s about a zone to allow the venue to exist.”

Callahan has been working with Doug Lowrie, the owner of the Salt House, for the craft distillery business location.

“It will allow Doug and I to continue to finalize the formal lease agreements,” he said of the board’s decision. “It gives me a piece of mind knowing that Jonesborough is going to support us.”

According to the Town of Jonesborough, the intent of the Distilling Overlay District is to “provide suitable locations for the possible operation of a distilling company meeting all state and federal requirements that legally manufactures and sells intoxicating liquors within the corporate limits of the Town of Jonesborough.” The purpose. according to town documents, is to enhance the local economy, while increasing the town’s potential, all while ensuring the safety and welfare of visitors and residents.

A distilling company can be located in the overlay zone if the manufacturing building is 500 feet away from an active church or school or 150 feet away if located in a central business district.

In order to be located in the overlay zone, a submitted site plan including the availability of parking; adequate pedestrian access; schematic of the building; an odor control plan and a business plan must be submitted to the Jonesborough Regional Planning Commission for approval.

Approval is also required from the Historic Zoning Commission, if the building is located in the historic district, for exterior building improvements and signage. Before a regular certificate of occupancy is issued, a landscape plan must be submitted to the Tree and Townscape Board.

The Jonesborough Regional Planning Commission will also review and approve the site plan and use of the property.

Alderman Chuck Vest said a distillery is a good opportunity for downtown, possibly establishing something to grow with years to come.

Callahan said he now has the business license and is starting to pursue the legal paperwork as far as bonds and permits from the federal and state government. He said as soon as he obtains the federal permits, the ball will really start rolling for the business.

“It’s becoming more of a reality every day,” he said about his dream of creating an authentic Tennessee moonshine distillery.

Callahan said within the next month he hopes to start ordering equipment for the distillery.

“This is my hometown,” he said of Jonesborough. “I feel really honored to bring a unique business to my hometown.”

His hope is to put the best legally made Tennessee moonshine on liquor store shelves across America.

“We are going to be a professional business and operate in a professional manner in respect to the town,” Callahan said. “We are trying to bring a quality, sophisticated distillery into the town of Jonesborough. We are hard working people taking a leap of faith and hopefully have something to be proud of.”

The ordinance will become affective after the passage of the second and final reading takes place.

“A ‘made with love’ distilling company

Last week I interviewed Stephen, who is anticipating on opening a new distilling company in Jonesborough Tennessee after a meeting with the Jonesborough Planning Commission. He hopes to have the company up and running by the end of the year.

The first article ran in last week’s paper.  Here is the link to my first article:

https://meghan80.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/distillery-coming-to-jonesborough/

Proposed distillery gets planning commission OK

Article published in Jan. 28 issue of the Herald & Tribune

Stephen Callahan is one step closer to opening a distilling company in downtown Jonesborough – a new company that will produce Tennessee moonshine.

Last week, the Jonesborough Planning Commission approved a distilling company overlay zone, as well as a zoning map with specific locations for the new overlay zone, to accommodate the possible business venture.

The commission voted to use Woodrow Avenue as the boundary for the zone that would include the Parson’s Table, the Widow Brown property and the Salt House for the zoning map.

Marcy Hawley, Innkeeper of Hawley House Bed & Breakfast, shared some concerns regarding zoning during the meeting. Her home is located at 114 E. Woodrow Avenue – next door to the Salt House.

“The question is I do not want my house rezoned,” she said. “From the map, it is hard to tell what is rezoned. I do not want to be part of the overlay district. I don’t want the county to think I’m commercial.”

Attorney Jim Wheeler assured her that nothing was going to be rezoned. He explained that the overlay district goes on top of the zoning.

“The zoning stays the same,” Wheeler said. “Within that zone, there is an area that will have different regulations.

Callahan said he noticed the Salt House was available while he was still in the process of researching investment opportunities. He got in contact with the building’s owner, Doug Lowrie, and since then, everything has pointed him toward the pursuit of establishing a distillery business in Jonesborough.

“I’ve been planning this thing for probably a year and a half to two years,” Callahan said.

He has researched the business, looking at similar companies in other areas. Callahan mentioned one distillery, in particular – Dark Corner Distillery in Greeneville, S.C. – that has a similar setting as Jonesborough and became a kind of an inspiration and a business model for him.

“They have done a really good thing down there with tourism in their town,” Callahan said.  “It gave us an idea of what we wanted to do. They make a really high-quality product.”

Board Member Dean Chesnut expressed his excitement about the business opportunity during the meeting.

“It’s an awesome thing for the town,” he said.

Chesnut said distilleries are one of the biggest businesses in the country and he believes it would be a great tourist attraction for Jonesborough.

During Callahan’s presentation, Board Member Chuck Vest asked what kind of noise and odor the distillery would produce.

Callahan assured him that when visiting a Jack Daniels distillery he could not smell any of the odors, that it was all contained within the building. He also said an individual could stand right beside the distillery and not hear any noise.

The equipment Callahan will be using is from Confederate Stills of Alabama. His plans are to eliminate the need of a steam generator by using a peanut oil boiler to cut down the energy usage, which will also be more time efficient.

“We will be the first distillery in the country to have this specific still,” Callahan said. “Rather than having a steamer still, we are going to use peanut oil and heating elements and eliminate a lot of space.”

The equipment will be placed behind a glass wall, so individuals who tour the building can smell and almost feel the distillation process.

“Most of the time you can walk in off the street and I can give you a brief tour,” he said. “I want to operate the still and have the public come in and see the product coming out of the still.”

Callahan said they are keeping to the Salt House era for the distillery. The freight elevator inside of the building is currently being restored, so he will have access to the second floor for storage.

“We are restoring the original elevator that was used in the building,” Callahan said. “It’s a showpiece in itself because it is all hand-operated.”

The Salt House, he explained, will be used as the business’ storefront.

He is already looking ahead, anticipating large demands for his product and the possible expansion into a national market. “Once we get to a certain capacity, we are going to build a secondary production facility in the country,” he said.

But for now, his sights are set squarely on the Salt House. “Our main goal for now is we are going to use the building for immediate exposure,” he said.  “We will always keep the Salt House.”

Callahan plans include producing moonshine at the distillery by using grains from local farmers, adding that he wants to keep everything tied to local businesses when possible.

“Our main product is going to be Tennessee moonshine, a traditional recipe straight from the hills of Tennessee,” he said. “We are local and we want everybody to have the Tennessee moonshine experience. We want to stay true to our history.”

The moonshine will be made in small batches and placed into bottles with Callahan’s signature, as well as the date and batch number at the facility. The label will also include the inscription, “Made in Jonesborough, Tennessee.”

“It’s a personal business for me,” he said. “It’s my personal passion and I want to do it right. I want the customers to feel a personal connection with my product, a ‘made with love’ kind of deal.”

Callahan also hopes to create a series of limited edition bottles that explains the history of Jonesborough on every whiskey. He said that will be something special that will put Jonesborough on the map.

Other opportunities are also being explored to make apple brandy at the distillery.

The proposed business will also include a tasting bar and storefront where individuals can purchase a bottle of moonshine for off premise consumption, as well as merchandise. Callahan hopes to incorporate local crafts, jellies, jams, blacksmith projects and small furniture for the retail portion of the business.

“Hopefully, we can make Jonesborough proud,” he said.

With the approval from the Planning Commission, the item will now go before the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The board will have to approve the overlay zone and map on two readings, including a public hearing.

Callahan said while he waits for the approval from the BMA, he has to apply for his business license and trademark issues. Once the business license is obtained, he said he has to pursue bonds, which is needed to obtain the state and federal permits.

“If you get it right the first time, you can get it done fairly soon,” Callahan said. “It depends on the precision of your application process.”

Right now, he said it’s all a leap of faith as far as the outcome goes.

“Take a leap of faith and just go for it, that’s what we are doing,” Callahan said. “Once we get through the Jonesborough process, I think it’s going to get really exciting.”

If all goes according to plan, Callahan hopes to have the business up and running by the end of the year.

Distillery coming to Jonesborough?

 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.