Leaders in Tennessee’s distillery and business communities are launching Company Distilling, a full-scale spirit production facility and brand, this fall in Blount County with ambitious plans to expand in East Tennessee and across the state.
The five friends and founders include former Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett, former president of the Tennessee Distillers Guild Kris Tatum, construction management professional Corey Clayton, founder of H. Clark Distillery Heath Clark and Clayton Homes CEO Kevin Clayton.
Company Distilling will invest at least $20 million to build a manufacturing facility and campus in Alcoa as well as a tasting room in Townsend, it announced at a press event Tuesday.
Those new developments are expected to employ 60 people in the area, and other opportunities will be available as Company grows over the years.
Workers involved in operations won’t be the only ones to benefit from the new distillery. Company will rely on the agricultural industry for natural ingredients to make its unique spirits.
“We’re going to be a world-class employer,” Kevin Clayton said Tuesday. “We’re going to pay well, and we’re going to be just an incredible employer.”
Company Distilling plans to produce a wheated bourbon with an “approachable complexity” during its first year, Arnett said on Tuesday. Then, the founders will work on a gin recipe the following year.
“The reality is not everybody likes bourbon. Not everybody likes gin. So we want to be available to everybody,” Clark said. “The goal is to get together, enjoy each other and we intend to provide the spirit to do that, regardless of your preference.”
Clark continued to say that in the coming years, drinkers will see Company dabble in a variety of spirits and flavors, all of which will include natural ingredients and be free of artificial flavorings and sugars.
“People who live more healthy lifestyles tend to drink less but drink better, and we want to have products that are very appropriate for that,” Clark said. “People who drink in moderation, but are willing to invest in a quality drink when they do.”
Company Distilling’s largest location and main manufacturing facility is set to open in 2022 at Springbrook Farm, master-planned “city center” in Alcoa.
The 20,000-square-foot refurbished building will feature a tasting room, restaurant, brewery and retail store with ample outdoor activities and entertainment for the whole family. The 31-acre property will include a live music venue, corn hole, pickleball courts, bonfire pits and open access to greenway trails for friends and families to enjoy throughout the year.
“Over the last several years of getting to know this team, we all talk a lot and we all said that we would never want to be a part of anything that we wouldn’t want our parents, friends and children to come and spend time at,” Clayton said.
“We absolutely are 100% committed. There will be no tolerance for any kind of poor behavior or irresponsibility around what we will be doing.”
A distillery for outdoor enthusiasts
The first Company Distilling location will open this fall in Townsend. The 4,000-square-foot tasting room and restaurant will sit at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along Little River and the Townsend Greenway.
Corey Clayton, who works as a project manager for Vee Hollow Bike Trails, was excited to announce the flagship location’s outdoor features.
“As much as we’re about making great whiskey, we’re about bringing people together, too. And there’s no place better place to do that than outdoors,” Corey Clayton said.
The Townsend location will include outdoor seating, access from the greenways and yard games for guests to enjoy during their visit.
“We just can’t wait to have a place where people can go to ride all day with friends and family then come back, relax grab a drink and create some great memories together.”
Not only is Company Distilling creating a brand inspired by nature, but the distillery is also working to protect the outdoors.
“We will be carbon neutral, going forward. We will recycle and work with farmers to just do absolutely all that’s possible. (We would) love to see solar on the facility. We’ll push the limit on what’s possible,” Kevin Clayton said.
“That ties into our long-term view, and that’s part of our social responsibility. We want to be the perfect example of what’s possible and how to make the future in the world a better place for younger people.”
Allie Clouse covers entertainment and attractions in East Tennessee