BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – From liquor to beer, Tennessee Hills continues to expand not only in its products but also in the company’s ventures since its formation in 2014.
The latest expansion by the highly recognizable Northeast Tennessee brand will help the company reach its goal of national distribution and much more.
“Our new facility will give us the capacity that we need to fulfill the demand and then the ball is in our court. How good are we? I think we’re pretty good and we’re putting a lot of money and faith behind that. We’ll have to see where the chips fall here in a couple of years,” said Co-Owner & President of Rugged American Spirits, Stephen Callahan.
The facility is settled on the former American National University campus in Bristol, Tennessee across from the Pinnacle. It was a location that was strategically chosen by Stephen Callahan and his business partner.
“It’s the gateway to Tennessee. It’s the perfect opportunity to make tourists realize that Tennessee actually starts here in East Tennessee and doesn’t necessarily start in Gatlinburg. It’s located right beside Interstate 81 so you get 30,000 cars a day driving past this location and 6 million visitors a year over at the Pinnacle. When you are talking about trying to take that national leap, this is the perfect spot to do it,” said Callahan.
Bristol Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Beth Rhinehart, said this new venture is building off the momentum of already booming growth in Bristol.
“It’s really important to bring more people in to experience and opportunities we have here in our community. It’s going to be a boom for all the other business opportunities as well. People will go Downtown and shop, people will go to Exit 7 and shop or the Pinnacle to shop and all the borders beyond that,” said Rhinehart.
Located in a prime spot, the new facility will become more than just a distillery. Callahan said it will offer multiple bars, a museum, corporate headquarters, and even a creamstillery; specializing in booze-infused ice cream and baked goods.
“When we think of something and we think it’s worth going after, we jump all in. We flew out to Ice Cream University and learned everything we needed to know about ice cream and infusing it with alcohol. We’re excited to get back to those entrepreneurial roots that are in our DNA and any time we get a chance to build something new, we’re all over it,” said Callahan.
While the space isn’t much at the moment, it will soon be full of opportunities, not to mention, jobs. Callahan says roughly 40 to 50 jobs will be added to their existing operation.
“Primarily it’s going to be the Tennessee Hills Creamstillery on the front end of it and also our corporate offices and laboratories for all of our on-site operations. We’re standing in this room which is a temporary bottling facility that we’re setting up to get us through the big push until our new facility opens later this year,” he said.
As far as the timeline goes, the original plan was to have the full facility up and running by October 2023. However, due to supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic, the timeline has slightly shifted to completion and opening in December.
Callahan said while it’s a setback, he fully anticipates opening this Winter.
Overall, leaders within Bristol Tennessee can’t wait to see this vision come to life.
“It’s all coming together in a really unique way timing-wise that I think will be huge for us,” said Rhinehart.
Callahan told News Channel 11 that in addition to the facility, his company is eyeing yet another project in Bristol. A nearby plot of 45 acres they own could one day have cabins for rental just beside the new headquarters, but it’s going to be a bit until those plans are fully drafted up and formally announced.