BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) — Tennessee Hills broke ground on a $21 million expansion in Bristol, Tennessee on Thursday, hosting more than 100 people in a celebration at the site.

The expansion marks site number three for the regional distillery. The Bristol location will join existing Tennessee Hills operations in Jonesborough and Johnson City. The construction phase is set to take around 18 months before it can officially open to the public.

“I hope everybody gets the opportunity to feel like what it feels like today. To see your dream start to come to fruition,” said Stephen Callahan, founder of Tennessee Hills.

The new location will be right across the street from the Pinnacle in Bristol, the former site of American National University, high on a hilltop overlooking the shopping and restaurant hub.

“When we first started this eight years ago, we had no idea it was gonna grow to this level. It’s a true testament of perseverance, true grit and what can happen when a community of people get behind a certain product or certain brand,” said Callahan.

Tennessee Hills is a familiar name locally when it comes to authentic and innovative spirits. For Callahan’s business partner Scott Andrew, this expansion is the next step in cultivating Tennessee Hills as a “lifestyle brand.”

“We see this hill and this area in Bristol as the trailhead for Tennessee whiskey, for NASCAR, and for country music. This is the birthplace of country music. We’re gonna be on the first hill making whiskey in the state of Tennessee,” said Andrew.

By next fall, Tennessee Hills hopes to open a 34,000-square-foot distillery in Bristol, pumping out more than 7,000 bottles of spirits in a span of hours; a big jump from the 1,000 bottles a week produced now in Jonesborough.

“We want to see this scaled on a national level to bring all that attention into the state and business through tourism,” said Andrew.

The Bristol site will also include space to teach classes on distilling through a partnership with East Tennessee State University.

It will also be home to a museum dedicated to Tennessee’s rich history and its moonshining and whiskey origins.

The site is expected to eventually pump millions of dollars into the local economy. Tennessee’s commissioner for economic development, Stuart McWhorter, was in town for Tuesday’s event. Gov. Bill Lee was scheduled to attend the groundbreaking, but canceled public events this week due to the recent announcement of his wife’s cancer diagnosis.

“On behalf of Gov. Lee and the State of Tennessee, it is my pleasure to break ground on Tennessee Hills’ new expansion into Bristol and Sullivan County,” McWhorter said to a packed room of supporters.

The City of Bristol has also donated another 45 acres of land adjacent to the Pinnacle to pair with this project. Tennessee Hills plans to open an adventure and entertainment park there in the near future.