North Dakota Sweet Crude: A 100-Year-Old Family Recipe
In a town as small as Zap, ND, there are no strangers, and there’s always a reason to celebrate. 100 years ago, these occasions were toasted with Martin Weidner’s “smokehouse moonshine” – a crude spirit that mixed well with the rugged nature of North Dakotans.
Old man Weidner passed his recipe on to his children, who shared it with theirs. Generations of Weidners have added their polish, but left the liquor unrefined (as a good hooch should be). In recent years, the Weidner brothers were known to share it with the farmers who invite them to hunt their land, keeping on the tradition of toasting with friends and neighbors.
Now, the Weidner brothers are proud to share it with you. Enjoy it straight or on the rocks, but always in good company.
THE WEIDNER FAMILY “WEDDING WHISKEY”
I remember my first taste of North Dakota Sweet Crude. The family was celebrating Grandpa and Grandma Weidner’s 50th anniversary. We were back in Beulah, North Dakota at the Veteran of Foreign Wars club. It was a large and rowdy get together, with music, food and dancing. I was eight years old.
A little old man, some distant relative, was sauntering around the party. He carried a couple of tiny glasses and a big bottle of brown liquid. The old man asked everybody he passed if they “cared to have a little pick me up.” When he approached me on the edge of the dance floor, I said sure.
Pouring out the brown liquid, he passed me a glass. The old man said to drink it all at once. I did. It was real good stuff.
The Weidners are of German origin, but we came to America by way of Russia. Our great grandfather Martin Weidner immigrated to western North Dakota in the early 1900s. At the time, North Dakota was a dry state. Making whiskey was a covert operation. Martin decided to set up his still in the family smokehouse. Running a still required fire and smoke. If he used the smokehouse, he could make whiskey without drawing too much attention.
Our great grandma Emma didn’t know about the still at first. But she soon put two and two together. One evening, Martin was playing cards with his brother. When he excused himself from the table, Emma looked outside. Smoke was rising from the smokehouse. They hadn’t butchered a hog or cow in over a month. What was Martin cooking?
Emma asked her husband why he kept going in and out of the smokehouse. Martin replied, “Stellen Sie keine Fragen, auf die Sie keine Antworten haben möchten.” In other words, don’t ask questions you don’t want answered!
A Shot a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
My wife Cari grew up in a non-drinking family. She has long been curious about the history of North Dakota Sweet Crude. One day, Cari asked my father, Reverend Arthur Weidner, about the family’s older relatives. She wanted to know when they usually drank “Wedding Whiskey.” Cari thought the liquor must have been saved for special occasions. My father said, “Well, when I was growing up, my dad would have a shot every morning before going out to milk the cows.” Cari was shocked. She laughed and asked if there was a reason his father drank every morning. My father replied, “He said it aided the digestion.”
Brothers Christian & Arthur Weidner with Grandpa Albert
Great Grandpa Martin & his eldest son