Three weeks to go, and it looks increasingly unlikely that anyone will find it. So it's time to let the world know what will become of that case of Irish whiskey that was hidden somewhere in Our Fair Burg last February by the James Joyce Society of Washington.

Back in September, I published the clues. They were snippets of sentences and phrases drawn from the great Irish writer's work. Joyce Society officials arranged them to form a Joycean treasure map. All you had to do was figure out about a dozen imponderables -- such as "riverrun, past six James' house and Ulysses" -- and a case of Jameson's Irish Whiskey would be yours. You had one year to do it, or until Feb. 2, 1983, which would be Joyce's 101st birthday if he were still living.

But a year proved too little, or perhaps the clues proved too much. Some people have gotten close, according to Kevin Madden, a professor of English at Georgetown University and president of the Joyce Society. But no one has struck caramel-colored gold.

If you happen to find the whiskey between now and Feb. 2, your prize is an honorary membership in the Society. Claimants should write to the Society at P.O. Box 2212, Hoya Station, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., 20057, or call 686-2450.

However, if the whiskey remains undiscovered, the Society is planning to auction it off at 8 p.m. on Feb. 3, in the Bentley Lounge of American University's Gray Hall. "We will explain the clues to the great unwashed and thirsty masses," says Society treasurer Ray Lane, "and auction off the thing for the benefit of the nonprofit Society."

Will they open a bottle to give the masses a taste? "I think we have to," acknowledged Madden. Joyce, I'm sure, wouldn't have it any other way.