We are currently on week 7 of my Beam Rye experiment. Thank you for your helpful suggestions. I should have noted in my first post that I had a "MacGyver" clause in my original idea: all materials must be readily available and self-fashioned to suit their final purposes.
I took a small sample of the re-aged rye over to OscarV's house on Saturday. The results were mixed. The new whiskey was certainly "an improvement," according to OscarV, but is not yet in the same class as a mid-shelf rye. The whiskey has started to lose some of the offensive raw grain character that I disliked so much. ACDetroit commented on the "pepperminty" nose on the new rye, which is certainly a new development. OscarV also commented that the standard Beam Rye has an "oily texture" that causes it to be unappealing. Apparently the experiment has improved the texture of the whiskey as well.
The whiskey as picked up a healthy amount of char, mostly due to the close contact with lots of charred oak. I think continued exposure to the charred oak would push the whiskey past the point of "interesting" char into the range of "offensive." So, today I made some changes. I am looking to boost the soft vanilla quality, so I am moving away from char and into toasted oak.
In order to take the sample of the whiskey to OscarV's house, I filtered it through a paper coffee filter and put it into a clean bottle. This morning I cut two more 1X1.5 inch pieces of oak and put them in the oven at 400 degrees until I got the color I wanted. See the pictures below to get an idea how toasty I got the oak. I put the toasted pieces next to the lumber from which they were cut. I added one toasty chunk of oak to each of two "aging tanks" (i.e. mason jars) and distributed the whiskey evenly back into the two containers.
I also forgot to mention in my first post that I am cycling the jars into different climate zones in my house. I have a summer station (inside an 88 degree box in the kitchen); a spring station (on the counter near the stove, appx. 74 degrees); a fall station (on the counter near the back door, appx. 65 degrees); and a winter station (in the basement, appx. 60 degrees). Right now the jars are in summer to help soak some juice into the wood. Then we'll go through a full "year" of aging in the few weeks before the sampler.
Finally, I am including some images to help you compare how much deeper the color has gotten on the rye in 7 weeks. I much prefer the new amber hue (the two jars with identical contents) to the old straw-colored grain water (the original Beam rye on the far left of the other picture).