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/660-how-do-you-love-your-neighbor-in-the-midst-of"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,750,845/5907_Wil-CasMug_2.5_inches.rev.1548777885.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,750,845/5907_Wil-CasMug_2.5_inches.rev.1548777885.webp 2x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,750,845/5907_Wil-CasMug_2.5_inches.rev.1548777885.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,750,845/5907_Wil-CasMug_2.5_inches.rev.1548777885.jpg 2x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,750,845/5907_Wil-CasMug_2.5_inches.rev.1548777885.jpg" alt="Rev. Wil Cantrell, E&H Class of 2001." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,750,845/5907_Wil-CasMug_2.5_inches.rev.1548777885.jpg 2x" data-max-w="750" data-max-h="845" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/660-how-do-you-love-your-neighbor-in-the-midst-of">How do you love your neighbor in the midst of conflict?</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> A book by Rev. Wil Cantrell (E&H ’01) intends to help United Methodists remain committed to the Church during a contentious debate. <a href="/live/news/660-how-do-you-love-your-neighbor-in-the-midst-of" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/903-headed-to-the-virginia-highlands-festival-this"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/383,118,1175,910/6560_67371737_644792832707714_971696063926763520_n.rev.1563759429.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/383,118,1175,910/6560_67371737_644792832707714_971696063926763520_n.rev.1563759429.webp 2x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/383,118,1175,910/6560_67371737_644792832707714_971696063926763520_n.rev.1563759429.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/383,118,1175,910/6560_67371737_644792832707714_971696063926763520_n.rev.1563759429.jpg 2x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/383,118,1175,910/6560_67371737_644792832707714_971696063926763520_n.rev.1563759429.jpg" alt="Liv Jennings, E&H Class of 2019." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/383,118,1175,910/6560_67371737_644792832707714_971696063926763520_n.rev.1563759429.jpg 2x" data-max-w="792" data-max-h="792" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/903-headed-to-the-virginia-highlands-festival-this">Headed to the Virginia Highlands Festival This Week?</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Look for a 2019 E&H grad (Liv Jennings) who’s making the event thrive! <a href="/live/news/903-headed-to-the-virginia-highlands-festival-this" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2340-hannah-long-acquires-books-for-harper-collins"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/582,531,2259,2208/11225_IMG_20211215_180338973.rev.1651854433.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/582,531,2259,2208/11225_IMG_20211215_180338973.rev.1651854433.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/582,531,2259,2208/11225_IMG_20211215_180338973.rev.1651854433.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/582,531,2259,2208/11225_IMG_20211215_180338973.rev.1651854433.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/582,531,2259,2208/11225_IMG_20211215_180338973.rev.1651854433.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/582,531,2259,2208/11225_IMG_20211215_180338973.rev.1651854433.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/582,531,2259,2208/11225_IMG_20211215_180338973.rev.1651854433.jpg" alt="Hannah Long E&H Class of 2018" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/582,531,2259,2208/11225_IMG_20211215_180338973.rev.1651854433.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/582,531,2259,2208/11225_IMG_20211215_180338973.rev.1651854433.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1677" data-max-h="1677" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2340-hannah-long-acquires-books-for-harper-collins">Hannah Long Acquires Books for Harper Collins</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Hannah is breaking a long family tradition – and the adventure is paying off. <a href="/live/news/2340-hannah-long-acquires-books-for-harper-collins" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/924-eamph-alumna-to-sing-national-anthem-at-bristol"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,624,463/6723_CD_3.rev.1565968008.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,624,463/6723_CD_3.rev.1565968008.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,624,463/6723_CD_3.rev.1565968008.jpg" alt="Christina Druen at the 2018 Food City Race. She's singing the National Anthem for the 2019 race." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="624" data-max-h="463" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/924-eamph-alumna-to-sing-national-anthem-at-bristol">E&H Alumna to Sing National Anthem at Bristol Race This Weekend</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Christina Druen, E&H Class of 2016, will sing Friday night, August 16. <a href="/live/news/924-eamph-alumna-to-sing-national-anthem-at-bristol" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2192-victory-ime-is-finding-happiness-and-success-at"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,461,461/10801_Victory.rev.1644336778.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,461,461/10801_Victory.rev.1644336778.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,461,461/10801_Victory.rev.1644336778.jpg" alt="Victory Ime E&H Class of 2020 Business Development Consultant at Oracle" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="461" data-max-h="461" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2192-victory-ime-is-finding-happiness-and-success-at">Victory Ime is Finding Happiness and Success at Oracle</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Life is full of surprises, and Victory Ime is finding a way to succeed not in spite of the curve balls – but because of them.</span> <a href="/live/news/2192-victory-ime-is-finding-happiness-and-success-at" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>