So there’s this whiskey I’m always trying to find. It’s legendary in certain rarified circles. It’s called Weiss. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it, and you won’t find much information on it either, not even on the internet. I’ve been looking for this whiskey for fifteen years and have talked to bartenders about it in small towns all over Texas.
The only person who knows more about Weiss than me is Daniel Whittington at the Toad and Ostrich in Austin. A guy in Johnson City told me Daniel actually has a bottle in that whiskey vault of his. He swears he doesn’t, but I don’t know. He might.
How did I find out about this crazy whiskey?
Fifteen years ago I was in a bar in San Saba and this old guy walks in. He sets a bottle down and tries to sell it to the bartender, who wasn’t interested. Just before he left I asked the guy about his whiskey and he told me a little about it. Then he poured me a shot and disappeared. I took a sip and it blew my fuckin’ mind. I couldn’t even get off the stool.
The years have passed, and honestly I couldn’t tell you what it tasted like. But I remember it vibrated on my tongue like something alive. And when I swallowed it there was a smooth, round explosion of vapors that was born in the back of my mouth and went everywhere. Hell I think I even felt it in my ears.
I sat holding my shot glass and staring straight ahead. Then I said, “Boosh!” I guess because that’s what came to mind when I swallowed this stuff. Boooooosh!
I looked around but the old guy was gone. Didn’t get his name. No idea how to contact him.
I’ve been looking for this whiskey ever since. I’ve been piecing the story behind it together from rumors, legends, and hearsay all over the state.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Weiss whiskey was a brand in Southeast Texas in the late 1800s. Only they had legal troubles and never actually opened their distillery. But they made whiskey for friends and family. They say one of the grandsons still makes the stuff up somewhere near Llano and carries it around with him. He’s a little crazy, but he makes great whiskey.
The word is, this stuff mainly appears in the Panhandle and out West, which is why some people think the grandson lives out there. But I know for a fact the manager of a Brookshire Brothers west of Katy once had a bottle. I’ve seen a picture of it. And a Baptist preacher friend of mine from Middlothian claims he found a bottle at the back of a revival tent back in ’83. I don’t know if I believe him though, because he’s always been a bit of a blowhard. Whaddya gonna do? He’s a preacher.
So I continue my search. Every time I try a new whiskey I’m hoping it has a finish like Weiss. Someday if I’m in the right place at the right time, I want to find that whiskey and experience that amazing boosh again.
Update 9-29-17: Some of you have found a new distillery at WeissWhiskey.com. Not the same whiskey. The stuff I’m looking at is old. Dates back to late 19th century. Currently being produced and informally distributed up in the Panhandle of Texas.
This is the God’s honest truth: I’ll pay $250 to anyone in Texas who finds a bottle of Weiss Whiskey. Just send me an email and tell me where it is. We’ll meet up. I’ll pay you. We’ll drink together. Everyone goes home happy!