OK, no dice on any solid info regarding oaking cider, so getting the lab set up for an experiment.
I call it Ozquest
6 Gallons of Musselman's 100% apple cider (some ascorbic acid, no K-sorbate)
For each gallon:
Reduced to 100oz, of this 16oz was drained and heated for 2 mins in 1200w microvave. 12oz of white sugar added to heated 16oz then mixture was returned to container. Aerated, 1 campden added, rested for 10 minutes, aerated, 1/4tsp fermax added, Premier cuvée yeast added.
For those gallons with oak:
Dark and light oak were coated in water and steamed for 30 minutes, then allowed to cool for 20 minutes. Oak was added 20 minuttes after yeast.
Batch 1: Control, no oak
Batch 2: 1oz light oak in primary
Batch 3: 1oz dark oak in primary
Batch 4: 1oz light oak to secondary
Batch 5: 1oz dark oak to secondary
Batch 6: 1oz light oak in primary, 1oz light oak to secondary
Specific gravities were 1.075 +/- 0.002
Racked at 1.035
Bottled at 1.015 +/- 0.005
UPDATE 12 APRIL
First week after bottling and results are in.
As a benchmark I consulted my wine shop owner to find a quite oaky chardonnay which is commercially available coast to coast. We settled on 'Burning Head Chard'. It's about $14 a bottle, available in most wine liquor shops, and had a bear on the label breathing fire.
So, here's the chart...
In all round performance, the dark oak was tops. With a group at the house for my bday, I ran a blind taste test among a few folks. There was a 100% preference for the 'dark oak primary', and I'd have to agree - good nose, very smooth, and subtle oak taste (but definitely notable), it appears addition of some dark oak to secondary may increase the nose without too dramatic an impact on flavor.
Overall, the light oak didn't do too well and fell far behind the dark oaks on the taste test. The lights came across, in comparison, as overbearing with a sharp (almost acidy) taste, though the odor on the 'light primary' and 'light both' was satisfactory.
So, the taste test results (in preferential order)...
Dark primary (by a landslide)
Light both (buried by a landslide)
My next oak run, based on this, will be 1oz of dark oak per gallon in primary, 1/2oz per gallon in the secondary. Looking forward to it, should be most groovie.
Hope this experiment may offer some guidance. I'll drop another line in a week or two when they've had a chance to settle a bit more.