Delayed Gratification Technique

Delayed Gratification Technique in Pipe Smoking

With preliminary charring light.

We pipe smokers have abundant options for modifying the smoking characteristics of our tobaccos. We can transform a single tobacco blend by altering its humidity, aging it, rubbing it out to different consistencies, or by loading the pipe with different compressions or modifying our smoking cadence. One of the most enjoyable improvements we can easily and quickly achieve, however — especially for Virginia smokers — is the Delayed Gratification Technique (DGT).

The acronym should not be confused with DMV, an entity that certainly provides sufficient delay but little gratification. The Delayed Gratification Technique counters the speed of modern life and its many instant rewards with seemingly counterintuitive delay, but it isn't an emotional delay like when we were kids waiting for a birthday to arrive. With the utilization of DGT, a good tobacco can be made great and a great tobacco made sublime.

What Is DGT?

Perhaps the most attractive attribute of DGT is how mindlessly simple it is. One need only fill a pipe as normal, apply a charring light or two, and instead of immediately smoking, let the pipe rest for a time.

Perhaps the most attractive attribute of DGT is how mindlessly simple it is.

That's the delayed aspect, and the simple procedure mellows the tobacco in a way that's reminiscent of aging though entirely different. It isn't the same, just as cooking young sealed tins at 200 degrees for two or three hours modifies the flavor toward more age but is not the same as natural age. We've all experienced DGT to some degree — when we don't finish a pipe immediately but relight it later. If we relight something that has been smoked almost to the heel, the majority of us won't like the flavor much; but if the bowl has been only preliminarily started and then left to rest, magical flavor properties can manifest.

It's a technique that finds parallels in the wine world. Wine and tobacco share a number of qualities, including improvement-with-age. The flavorful experience of fine wine also benefits from a delay. Red wine is improved by aeration and a wait following decanting and before consumption, but white wine manifests little improvement. That odd imbalance sees a parallel in the use of DGT for tobacco: DGT works best for Virginias while Aromatics and English blends display less improvement.

How to Implement DGT

The improvement is easily achieved: Simply fill the pipe and give it a solid charring light, then smoke a few puffs, or maybe even smoke the first quarter bowl, and put it down. That's it. Pick it up later, after a couple of hours to a day, and smoke it. If you're like me, you'll find improved, deeper flavor, more mellow in character, with any strident edges softly rounded and with any Perique slightly highlighted.

The first time I noticed this improvement was when driving long-distance. I had filled and charred the tobacco in four pipes the previous night, because I don't like to perform a charring light while driving. If it's already charred, a single quick light re-ignites the bowl beautifully with no immediate relights or tamping necessary. Ironically, it's the instant gratification at the end of the delayed-gratification procedure.

... it's the instant gratification at the end of delayed-gratification procedure

While convenience, fire safety, and stability are admirable characteristics, we can probably agree that flavor is our most important consideration, and DGT improved my tobacco. It wasn't an epiphany; I only gradually became aware that the tobacco was surprisingly mellow and flavorful, and that phenomenon repeated for the next three pipes. By the end of my drive, I was ready to experiment and figure out how. With delays measured from one hour to 48, I found that for myself and my favorite VaPers and the way I smoke them, the sweet spot is 10-12 hours after the initial light. It's now a ritual for me to prep three or four pipes before bed so they're ready the next day.

Other Attributes

Delayed Gratification Technique in Pipe Smoking

Without preliminary charring light.

The tobacco also stays in the pipe more easily when its surface has been charred than when it's loose, with the char's resulting ash acting as a sort of cap that helps keep the tobacco in place (but don't place a lot of confidence in that seal. For traveling with a bowl of tobacco, a chamber cap is best). When I try to light a fresh pipe while driving, the tobacco expands and spills, embers ignite my clothing, and I find myself running down the median of the Interstate with my car in a ditch and my pants on fire. Hence the preliminary charring light. It's fire/humiliation insurance.

DGT is an unobtrusive, unpretentious technique, best used with Virginias and Virginia/Periques, though some find that it works well with English blends as well, as long as the tobacco is on the dry side. Aromatics aren't typically improved by DGT, possibly because of their toppings; Aromatics tend to smoke a bit wetter than other tobaccos, though your own experience may differ. Quality Aromatics respond better than goopy, over-sauced options. Cavendish, though, is typically not the best choice for DGT. In my own experience, DGT adversely affects Aromatics and other Cavendish blends, and Latakia sees some modification but nothing of the dramatic nature experienced with Virginias. Others, however, report good results from these categories. As always, personal experimentation is necessary, and it's pretty fun.

The Effects of DGT

When the tobacco is charred and given a few additional puffs, the smoke sifts through the bowl, and the tobacco absorbs some of the collateral moisture, along with smoke particles that deepen the flavor profile. I don't really know what I mean by "deeper," though no other word works as well. If the tobacco was music, the tone would be deeper; if it was thought, its complexity would be deeper. With DGT and tobacco, the flavor is deeper, lower, and more consistent.

With DGT and tobacco, the flavor is deeper, lower, and more consistent

The charring light is my least favorite part of a bowl of tobacco, though I still like it fine; it's just the least impressive portion of the bowl for me, and I can't concentrate on the flavor because I'm fiddling with tamping. So, DGT also preps our pipes with no charring light necessary; it's already done. Even at the beginning of a work day, I sometimes fill three or four pipes first thing, and just pick them up and start smoking them later. No refilling when I'm busy, no light, tamp, relight, tamp, relight, tamp. Ironically enough, the Delayed Gratification Technique actually offers its own sort of instant gratification.

I have smoked tobacco that has been sitting in a pipe for up to a week, and it was smokable but not something I'd deliberately repeat. Also, results are best with at least half a bowl of tobacco left in the pipe; preferably three-quarters. You might consider trying it with your own tobaccos for different delay durations and with different levels of tobacco pre-smoked, if you don't already utilize the technique. DGT provides an additional dimension of flavor, as well as non-incinerated pants.

Note: This article was originally published June 27, 2019. It has been updated for added relevance and detail.

Category:   Resources
Tagged in:   Pipe Basics Pipe Culture Tips

Comments

    • Howard R. Houck on June 29, 2019
    • Now there's one to which I CAN'T relate. Doesn't your chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight? Don't you assiduously avoid letting your CIGAR go out?
      Fifty years ago in Britain, it wasn't uncommon for people to smoke their ciggies by halves, the cost of fags then being among the highest in the world. This coincided with the UK lung cancer rates being the highest in Europe (after Finland, where their excuse was saunas). The experts put two and two together and deduced that when a smoke is stubbed out and later relit, the ash and remaining gunk enters the system along with the other nasties and wreaks havoc.

    • Howard R. Houck on June 29, 2019
    • Now there's one to which I CAN'T relate. Doesn't your chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight? Don't you assiduously avoid letting your CIGAR go out?
      Fifty years ago in Britain, it wasn't uncommon for people to smoke their ciggies by halves, the cost of fags then being among the highest in the world. This coincided with the UK lung cancer rates being the highest in Europe (after Finland, where their excuse was saunas). The experts put two and two together and deduced that when a smoke is stubbed out and later relit, the ash and remaining gunk enters the system along with the other nasties and wreaks havoc.

    • Michael L Roberts on June 30, 2019
    • When I heard about this a few years ago, the notion sounded plain silly to me. While I was a pipe smoker first, most of my smoking life (I'm 52) has revolved around cigars...and you never, ever desire to have your cigar go out; it gets bitter upon relighting. I've been back almost exclusively with pipes for the last 5 years and have learned so much that I didn't have the patience for earlier in my life. I can still lean towards too aggressive puffing and this technique really helps me take a break, reset, and enjoy the remainder of the pipe. I don't do it often, but when I do, I absolutely do enjoy the flavors more...and that isn't silly at all.

    • Pete Ersland on June 30, 2019
    • I have been smoking pipes for 60 years. I have often let my pipes go out and have relit many days later.
      I agree it doesn't hurt and most times improves the experience. Comparing it to cigars is silly. they are two different vehicles.

    • Bill Wright on June 30, 2019
    • Couple of thoughts--
      * It's comforting to know I'm crazy on at least two levels.
      First level...lighting a pipe and then letting it sit for a while. Been doing this for a bit over a decade; I work virtually (fully employed, thank you, not freelance) and oft-times I'd get a couple of puffs into a bowl and a phone call would come in to which I had to attend. I'd pick up another pipe, fill and light it only to see the first pipe, then I'd put down the second pipe and work on the first pipe. Being a complete English-style advocate, I do notice the difference.

      Second level-moisture level of my tobaccos. While not desert dry, I find more enjoyment from a blend that dry to the touch. This attribute was mentioned in this article and, I believe, in an early post by this author.

      Finally--cigar leaf is a great blending ingredient. To light a cigar and have it extinguish then relight it two days later---nope, not happening..

      Bill

    • Dwayne on August 5, 2019
    • When I first started smoking a pipe I dumped many bowls of tobacco because of my experience with cigars tasting nasty after being relit. (As an adult with attention deficit disorder I often start a bowl then get sidetracked on something else). My stubbornness and an almost empty tin of a favorite tobacco caused me to finally break down and relight a bowl that had been sitting for about 2 hours...it was delicious! That day changed my life. I began to experiment and started taking mental notes of which blends benefit most from the delay. For my taste preferences, I tend to prelight, tamp, then relight and smoke 4-5 extra puffs to allow the smoke to permeate and marry with the rest of the tobacco in the bowl while it is resting. I then pass a pipe cleaner into the chamber to absorb any excess moisture. I will often prepare a bowl of tobacco and prelight an hour or so before lunch or dinner, knowing it will be very gratifying when I return to it after my meal.

    • Jeremy F on August 26, 2019
    • I discovered this a bit myself in the past. Thank you for the reminder. I recall being pleasantly surprised yet baffled by the new definition of the bowl I was smoking. Glad to see someone else encountered this as well. Cheers!

      ~J

    • Joseph Kirkland on February 12, 2023
    • Chuck, another great article.I have inadvertently tried it over the years. Long years ago, I would start a pipe in the office and leave when I went to class. After class, usually 50 minutes to 1.5 hours, I would return and start it again. It was still good. I have been smoking a pipe on and off for about 65 years. Usually, I smoke an English blend, but for a change of pace, I’ll smoke a Virginia or VaPer.It’s a good practice.

    • Michael Cherry on February 12, 2023
    • Sir Charles;Another article of sound advise. Well done!Your Obedient Servant;Michael

    • Rick Newcombe on February 12, 2023
    • Jess Chonowitsch told me that when he was a teenager working at Suhr's tobacco shop in Copenhagen, the owner and famous pipe maker Poul Rasmussen did this every day. Before closing the shop, Poul would load a pipe, perform the charring light, and leave the pipe in the shop. Next morning, he would relight it and enjoy the pipe. Poul said he did this to bring out the flavors of the tobacco.

    • Blake on February 12, 2023
    • So true. Char and wait. Yep. Do it alot. Also, if you preload bowls, and don't have time to finish your preloaded bowls. I put the pipe (preloaded) in my cigar humidor overnight. Then in the morning take them out, and let them sit until the top of bowl tobacco is just right, a bit dryer, but spongy to touch, if it is crispy, then put it back in the cigar humidor, or blow air down the top of bowl, 2 breaths. That does the trick for me.

    • Robert Silverman on February 13, 2023
    • Sorry, but I have to believe that this is a great satire.

    • Bob Brown on February 13, 2023
    • Trust me... just because DGT might work with pipe smoking, it doesn't work with sex.

    • Marcel P on March 19, 2023
    • I call it the “cold relight” in my written tobacco notes. I get the bowl going, then set it down until it is stone cold, then relight. Not only do Va’s and Vaper’s soar with this technique, they seem to sip easier and burn cooler.

    • majid on March 3, 2024
    • سلام خیلی خوب و عالی هست لطفاً اینجور مطالب را ادامه دهید ممنونم

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