Barrels of Fun: Oxford Bourbon Festival

Sonia Thompson

If you've been searching high and low for that rare bottle of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle, then look no further than the inaugural Oxford Bourbon Festival, taking place May 18-20.

The three-day celebration of all things bourbon features private dinners by acclaimed chefs, exclusive tastings, music, and a live auction of rare bourbons. Proceeds from the festivities benefit Move on Up Mississippi, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of Mississippi’s underserved children.

A house at Splinter Creek was the setting of a private dinner for last year's Move on Up Mississippi benefit.

The festival kicks off with a series of private dinners. Cooking in some of the most historic homes in Oxford, the bourbon-themed meals, with paired wines and spirits, are prepared by distinguished chefs from around the country, including Mike Lata, Asha Gomez, Edward Lee and several others. Last year, Kevin Gillespie, a Top Chef contestant and owner of restaurant Gunshow in Atlanta, and Ryan Prewitt of Pêche Seafood Grill in New Orleans, cooked for the same benefit at a Splinter Creek home.

Last year's Splinter Creek benefit dinner featured chef Kevin Gillespie, of restaurant Gunshow in Atlanta, and chef Ryan Prewitt of Pêche Seafood Grill in New Orleans.

The festivities continue with a walk-around Bourbon Tasting Saturday afternoon where attendees can sample premium bourbons, meet distillers and whisky producers, and enjoy small bites by local chefs. Attendees will also have the opportunity to bid on rare bourbons, music experiences, and behind-the-scenes distillery tours during a live auction Saturday night. The weekend concludes with a Sunday morning “Milk Punch” brunch at Bouré on the Oxford square.

Chef John Currence, the host of the event and founder of Move on Up Mississippi says, “We want this to be the biggest and “baddest” bourbon festival in the country, and in our first year, we’re off to really impressive start. The lineup of talent, in every aspect of this event, is at such a high-level, that this truly is a “can’t miss” event for any bourbon or food lover.”

Visit OxfordBourbonFest.com for more information.

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