Tim Weisberg Got a Whiskey Education at Middleboro’s Charred Oak Tavern
I’m generally good for one or two drinks, tops, when I go out. I want to have a good time, but still be able to responsibly drive home. Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that the perfect drink for me is a whiskey at The Charred Oak Tavern, located at 57 Center Street in Middleboro.
The first time I ordered a whiskey there, I was slightly intimidated. My knowledge of the drink was limited; I knew there were bourbons, scotches, ryes and Irish whiskeys, but that was about it. My sampling had been limited to Jack Daniels, Maker’s Mark, the few odd shots of Wild Turkey, and most of the low-to-middle-end of the Johnny Walker line.
However, that feeling of intimidation quickly proved unfounded. The bartenders at Charred Oak are always ready to not only help you select the right drink to make your evening, but also to educate you in the process. I’ve learned so much in my visits there that it’s easy to feel like a connoisseur in no time.
Although, I’ll be honest – the first whiskey I ordered there was a very good Macallan 12-year, but I had to Google why they gave me a bottle of distilled water with an eyedropper so I wouldn’t look completely uncouth (you put a few drops in the glass, swirl, and then it lessens the alcohol taste when you sip so that you can taste all the notes in the blend).
If I’m not having a whiskey, Charred Oak has one of my favorite beers on tap, the Kentucky Vanilla Barrel Cream Ale. It’s pretty potent but it complements almost everything on the menu perfectly.
Because, of course, the food at Charred Oak is absolutely amazing. Ask anyone about the place, and they’re sure to mention the candied bacon with homemade butterscotch dipping sauce; it’s taken Instagram by storm.
Did you know all of the “clotheslines” from which the popular appetizer hangs were handmade by one of the owners’ father?
My usual go-to is to start with the bacon and then go for the bison burger (and I have them add a few slices of the candied bacon just for good measure), but I’ve tried a good portion of their menu.
Another favorite is the whiskey smoked short rib mac and cheese for those nights when you’re looking for some good, old-fashioned comfort food with that special Charred Oak twist.
With the new menu rolling out for spring, I can’t wait to see what inspired dishes are planned. And of course, there will be new signature cocktails, wines and whiskeys that will pair with the season just as much as with the new menu items.
I recently stopped by The Charred Oak Tavern and tried a whiskey flight for the first time. Since I’m just really starting out on my whiskey education, I’ve usually stuck to just one ounce-and-a-half serving of a specific whiskey on previous visits.
This time around, I thought I’d get into really sampling the variations of a particular brand; I asked the bartender, Stephen, about the Bowmore signature flight. He asked me if I’d ever had an Islay whiskey before, and I had to admit I had no idea what that meant. Stephen told me all about the Scottish island of Islay and the whiskeys that are produced there, and how they have a smoky flavor due to the peat used to create them. That sounded just fine to me, as I was in a single-malt scotch kind of mood.
So I ordered up the flight, which featured an ounce of Bowmore 12-year, one of Bowmore 15-year, and one of Bowmore Dorus Mor, which is a small-batch, 10-year scotch. Dorus Mor, it turns out, is Gaelic for “rough and wild water,” and it lived up to that moniker in a fun and tasty way. Of the three, though, the 15-year was by far my favorite, so smooth from spending its final three years in a sherry cask.
I also chose a great appetizer to pair with the flight, the bourbon pretzel. It’s a jumbo soft pretzel baked in-house, salted and served with a three-cheese smoked bourbon sauce.
Combined with my bison burger (with bacon, of course) and homemade banana bread with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch sauce, it was an excellent send-off to winter tastes and to get ready for all the exciting new flavors in both food and drink coming to The Charred Oak Tavern this spring.