E&H Mass Comm Student Story: Nathanial Hupp pours out details of Stephen and Jessica Callahan’s creative entrepreneurship

by Monica Hoel
This is part of a series of stories by members of the 2022 E&H Mass Comm 302 Class. 

Stephen and Jessica Curtis Callahan are crafting more than spirits and cocktails: they’re crafting innovative opportunities for the East Tennessee region.

The Callahans finished together at Emory & Henry in 2011, and in 2014 they started Tennessee Hills Distillery, located in historic Jonesborough, Tennessee. They were only 25 years old. Tennessee Hills became fully operational two years later in 2016 and they haven’t slowed down since. “We’ve grown it into a super regional brand, and one of the bestselling spirits in Tennessee,” said Stephen.

“We love being entrepreneurs,” Stephen said when asked about how he and Jessica have been so successful when it comes to running their own business. This fact has been proven by their success, and will be proven yet again in the near future with a handful of new projects in the works for both Jonesborough and Johnson City.

They’ve acquired an old church building called “The Parsons Table” in Jonesborough, with aspirations of remodeling it for an interesting business concept. Jessica has taken that project under her wing and wants to create a “creamstillery,” which Stephen says is basically going to be an “alcoholic bakery,” with a market to sell items such as ice cream, cheesecakes, and liqueurs.

The Callahans have recently branched out into the craft beer industry with the new Tennessee Hills Brewstillery in Johnson City, Tennessee. This came about from a recent 50/50 partnership with Rugged American Spirits, as they collectively bought the former JRH Brewing on West Walnut Street in Johnson City just as they were going out of business due to Covid.

“We bought it in hopes to elevate the Tennessee Hills brand, and expand our audience from just craft spirits to craft beers. Because not everyone drinks spirits, and more people tend to drink beer,” said Stephen. He also alluded to the fact that they partnered and bought the building in a defensive move to block prospective competitors from starting a large distillery on the same block in downtown Johnson City.

“A lot of people talk about doing things, but we get it done.” That is the mantra behind the Callahans’ motivation when asked about serving both their customers and community. In November of 2021, the Callahans and Tennessee Hills partnered with East Tennessee State University to launch a new program of “Brewing and Distillation Studies.” They saw it as a void not being filled due to labor shortages within the distillation fermentation science industry. According to Stephen, “This was massive; it echoed through the brewing and distilling industry across the United States.”

Stephen said that currently ETSU students can only minor in the program, but he has hopes that students will soon be able to major in the field and also attain a master’s degree. The Callahans’ inspiration behind this move was to be able to build a state of the art distillery to provide students with an opportunity and experience to work in one of the most advanced distilleries in the whole United States.

 

Nathanial Hupp -From Cape Cod, Massachusetts -Brother of Beta Lambda Zeta -Mass Communication maj... Nathanial Hupp

-From Cape Cod, Massachusetts
-Brother of Beta Lambda Zeta
-Mass Communication major and Sports Management minor

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1553-james-mccracken-is-making-a-difference-where-he"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/35,0,890,854/9226_Headshot_small.rev.1609977744.webp 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/35,0,890,854/9226_Headshot_small.rev.1609977744.jpg 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/35,0,890,854/9226_Headshot_small.rev.1609977744.jpg" alt="James McCracken, E&H Class of 1999." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/35,0,890,854/9226_Headshot_small.rev.1609977744.jpg 2x" data-max-w="855" data-max-h="854" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1553-james-mccracken-is-making-a-difference-where-he">James McCracken is Making a Difference Where He Never Expected to Be</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Dr. James McCracken spent years in scientific laboratories completing his post grad work, and most people figured he was headed for teaching or research. But as it turns out, it was the hardware in those labs that really caught his imagination. <a href="/live/news/1553-james-mccracken-is-making-a-difference-where-he" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2791-adam-bolt-writes-songs-that-mean-something"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,639,640/13505_adam_bolt_pic.rev.1678377707.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,639,640/13505_adam_bolt_pic.rev.1678377707.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,639,640/13505_adam_bolt_pic.rev.1678377707.jpg" alt=" Adam Bolt Emory & Henry Class of 2012 " width="345" height="225" data-max-w="639" data-max-h="640" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2791-adam-bolt-writes-songs-that-mean-something">Adam Bolt Writes Songs That Mean Something</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> His first stage was the lunchroom.</p><a href="/live/news/2791-adam-bolt-writes-songs-that-mean-something" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2417-katie-beth-bordwine-pastor-at-law"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,49,2316,2365/11728_294151058_578583833733131_3226987127817745888_n.rev.1659541467.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,49,2316,2365/11728_294151058_578583833733131_3226987127817745888_n.rev.1659541467.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,49,2316,2365/11728_294151058_578583833733131_3226987127817745888_n.rev.1659541467.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,49,2316,2365/11728_294151058_578583833733131_3226987127817745888_n.rev.1659541467.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,49,2316,2365/11728_294151058_578583833733131_3226987127817745888_n.rev.1659541467.jpg" alt="Katie Beth Bordwine Emory & Henry Class of 2016" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,49,2316,2365/11728_294151058_578583833733131_3226987127817745888_n.rev.1659541467.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,49,2316,2365/11728_294151058_578583833733131_3226987127817745888_n.rev.1659541467.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2316" data-max-h="2316" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2417-katie-beth-bordwine-pastor-at-law">Katie Beth Bordwine: Pastor at Law</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Even though Katie Beth is an attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina in Boone, she is spending a fair amount of time in a church pulpit these days. <a href="/live/news/2417-katie-beth-bordwine-pastor-at-law" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3241-terica-west-is-a-bakestere-with-a-secret"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,957,956/14927_Terica_West.rev.1700579154.webp 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,957,956/14927_Terica_West.rev.1700579154.jpg 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,957,956/14927_Terica_West.rev.1700579154.jpg" alt="Woman Smiling" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,957,956/14927_Terica_West.rev.1700579154.jpg 2x" data-max-w="957" data-max-h="956" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3241-terica-west-is-a-bakestere-with-a-secret">Terica West Is A Bakestere With A Secret Ingredient</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> But her friends don’t like her to talk about it.</p><a href="/live/news/3241-terica-west-is-a-bakestere-with-a-secret" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>