I taste tested a few of my mason jar aging experiments this weekend and the results were surprising.
The Whistlestop with a light char was my favorite. It almost makes me want to try an uncharred piece of oak just to see what it does. The flavor changes after three weeks into a smoother bourbon. The color is a light golden brown and gets darker and darker every week.
The light char got rid of the acidic after bite that the white whiskey has and makes it a little smoother. It still smells very much like moonshine but has other smells associated with it.
The dark char has a smoky almost burnt flavor. My hopes are that this will fade over time. I could tell a big difference between the light and dark char. I might need to experiment with different levels of char and how long the chips are allowed to cook in the cast iron box to get different levels of char.
The hickory wood is my least favorite. The flavor was not what I expected and took on almost a rancid flavor. I was glad that I had crackers close by. The flavor was not smooth and not something that I would repeat. I will give it a few more months but I have little or no hope that this will work. It does make me want to try other woods to see what the differences are. I do have some apple and pecan chips that might be worth experimenting with.
I decided to fill my 5 liter cask with Weller Special Reserve and see if I could smooth the flavor with the oak barrel. I first hydrated the cask with water for a week and rinsed it out. I then put three 1.5 liter bottles in the cask and let it sit for a week. The flavor changed but not as much as the mason jar experiments. My guess is that the cask is a light char. Since I got it as a present I have no clue how much char there is inside. I like the flavor and look forward to seeing how it mellows as the weeks go on.
mason jars: 3 weeks on the shelf, flavor changed after week 1.
oak cask: 1 week on the shelf, flavor smoother after 1 week.