/Inaugural Oxford Bourbon Festival to benefit Move on Up Mississippi Mississippi Today

Inaugural Oxford Bourbon Festival to benefit Move on Up Mississippi Mississippi Today

Currence was probably 4 or 5 years of age at the time. He is now a James Beard Foundation Award winning chef, Oxford restaurateur, and author. My parents would often be out for supper, and my brother and I would get a goodnight kiss from them when they returned home. They would also crawl into our beds to snuggle and kiss our boys. I can still remember feeling half-awake on those nights as a child, my parents whispering to me and my mom. “That was one the most amazing smells in all of the world. It was a wonderful smell. The inaugural Oxford Bourbon Festival & Auction will be held in Bourbon. The festival will be held in Oxford from May 18-20. It features three days of celebrations that include bourbon themed private dinners with prominent chefs, a live performance by The War & Treaty and exclusive bourbon tastings. There will also be an auction of rare bourbons, bourbon themed trips, and a Milk Punch Brunch. Move on Up Mississippi, a non-profit founded by Currence that aims to improve the lives of Mississippi’s children will benefit from festival proceeds. There will be more than a dozen top-rated chefs from the South participating, including Mike Lata, FIG and The Ordinary Charleston, Matt Bolus (404 Kitchen Nashville), Edward Lee (615 Magnolia, Louisville), and great Mississippi talent like Vishwesh Bhatti (Snackbar in Oxford), Derek Emerson, Walker’s Drive-In Jackson, and David Crews (Delta Supper Club Cleveland). The festival, which builds on years of private dinner fundraisers for the foundation, adds to the foundation’s appeal and makes Oxford a more attractive destination. Currence states that there is a lot of interest in bourbon now. The involvement of bourbon labels such as Sazerac Maker’s Mark, Angel’s Envy and Angel’s Envy has been overwhelming. It was difficult to manage enthusiasm and keep the inaugural event small. The festival taps into a wealthy, socially conscious clientele who are willing to travel to pursue their interests. Currence calls it a “win-win, win-win, win-win, and-win situation.” Rich Grain Distilling Co., Canton, in a “win” column. David Rich, the distillery owner, will be there with his Mississippi-made Bourbon. He also donated some bottles from the original release for the auction. Rich, a graduate of Ole Miss, loves any opportunity to return to Oxford. But, he said, “I’m particularly excited for this festival.” Rich says that for a young company like mine, every chance to show our products and put them before customers is great.” He also enjoys supporting Currence’s non-profit. The price of an event ticket ranges from $35 to the bourbon tasting, $40 for the concert ($85 VIP), and $250 for private dinners. Visit moveonupms.org to find out more information and purchase tickets. Currence states that Move on up Mississippi is approaching its fourth year of existence and is still trying to find ways it can make a difference in the state’s future. Board members were moved by a story about homeless children in Oxford that was published in a high school newspaper. It was written by a friend’s boy. Last fall, a charrette was held with county nonprofits to identify the most pressing community needs for children. Moving on Up Mississippi is still a clearinghouse that grants money to programs with the criteria that meet the nonprofit’s mission to improve childhood health, nutrition education, and activity. The help has included partnering with Interfaith Compassion Ministry in Oxford to reduce the gap between incomes and living costs for the working poor, as well as working with the SNAP program at the Oxford Community Market. The festival will announce the grantees for this year. There are many ways to enjoy bourbon, as any bourbon enthusiast will tell you. Currence loves this one. Bess, Currence’s wife, enjoys late-night “porch dates” at their Oxford home. It is not far from the Square. He says, “When the weather is right, we’ll be sitting on our front porch swing — because we live on a route that the kids come back home after the bars close — and then we can turn down the lights, sip a cocktail, and watch them come home and listen, in this completely secretive way almost like spying.” Conversation and context are just as important as the spirit in the glass. It’s fascinating to me how academic and sometimes even clinical it has become for people to sit down and study these whiskeys. Currence states that he enjoys the taste of 1970s Old Fitzgerald whiskey and can appreciate how complex it is compared to today’s whiskey. What is the truth? It’s easy to make a great bourbon cocktail by putting a few cubes in a glass, and then pouring it over rocks. He says, “Everything else is about having a good conversation with the person you are at the moment.” “I enjoy good whiskey, my first drink. Then, I set very strict rules. I won’t waste any good whiskey after the second drink. Let’s have a quick drink of Jefferson’s Reserve, then we can move on to the Buffalo Trace to tell stories. “There is nothing I love more than the first crisp fall morning. It’s the time when you get up in the morning and grab a large plastic tumbler. Then pour some Jack Daniel’s or Jim Beam into it and then pour Coca-Cola over it.