I also had to ask myself if I could really tell the difference between oak chips and barrel aging. My palate is not keen enough to spend the hassle and expense. Besides, I have about 15 pounds of medium toast French chips left from when I was fermenting 1500 pounds of grapes a year.
There is a difference. The oak chips add oak flavor while aging in a barrel gives almost a sense of sticking your nose in a barrel. Smell your chips, then smell the inside of a barrel and see if you don't think there is a huge difference.
Agreed, but I get round that by soaking the oak in liquor. At any given time, I've proabably got jars of 2oz of oak cubes each, filled with bourbon, spiced rum or cherry brandy etc. I'll just dump the entire contents into the keg when I want that particular flavor.