I used to use 'Warthog Purdey's alkanet root oil' which is not bad. That is until I was given a jar of the real thing, mixed by hand by my gunsmith (ex-Purdey finisher). He leaves the alkanet root in the oil for months, the latest stuff he gave me was labelled 'March 2003' and looks like blood.
This really does give both the colour you want and it really brings out the figure - black lines, highlights etc will stand proud as colour variations once the oil finish is complete, you wont see it properly until towards the end.
Don't be afraid of applying alkanet root oil - it darkens (reddens) as much as the wood will take it. Sometimes you have to apply many coats and it takes days to soak up and darken the wood, other wood will absorb oil very fast and darken with two or three light coats.
Long after I learned to get the rubbed oil finish right and the results very good, I had to learn to really appreciate the correct colour development for each gunstock.
A 'wrong colour' stock shows the hand of the amateur -even through a shiny, smooth finish.
For the oil finish, I don't hold with many of these recipes - rubbed English oil is the way to go. Once you have learned how to work it, it gives exactly the right finish, as originally applied. It takes a while but not so long as to worry or need to approximate the finish by other means in my opinion.
The more stocks I finish, the more critical I become of my own work- and that of others. Gunmakers did not spend 7 years learning their trade for nothing. I am fortunate in having a very patient and skilled finisher, who is generous with his time and even his hard-learned trade secrets.
Many a time I have taken him a stock I have finished for his appraisal and gently been told to look at this corner or that knot or a colour variation, a dull patch or a lack of depth. This has often been on work that ordinary shooters have been very pleased with and been unable to see any imperfection in.
I've been re-finishing gunstocks using the traditional methods for almost six years and I still think my work is amateurish when I REALLY compare it with the work of a London apprenticed professional.
Interestingly, many people who see my work don't see anything to critcise - they think it is A1. But I know, and a real finisher knows, that it is probably only approaching A2 to a properly educated eye.
Each new stock is a learning process for me - that is why I enjoy doing it. It is also why I have a lot of ordinary guns with very carefully finished woodwork - practice is the key and there are no real shortcuts.