RE: [Distillers] clarifications: oak chips
I think you're pretty much on the mark. In addition to what you've said
1) Woods other than oak can be used. At
http://www.geocities.com/kiwi_distiller/flavour.htm#wood Jack talks about
using maple wood as the sugars in it can help sweeten the distillate. See
the same link for ways of making and charing the wood.
2) I've had some spirit soaking on oak shavings for more than a year now.
They haven't broken down, and the flavour continues to improve. The
longer the better I reckon ! Why else do they sit in casks for 15+ years ?