Head to head: A Crystal Head chat with Dan Aykroryd
This week I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Dan Aykroyd, Distiller of Crystal Head Vodka. Living in Santa Fe I don’t get star-struck too often, but this was an honor that got me. I was introduced Dan when I saw my first “grown-up” film, The Blues Brothers. I was 10 years old and my folks were worried about the language in the movie ( if they could only hear me now!). Since then, Akyroyd has proved himself a true renaissance man with talents not only as an Actor, but as a Producer, Radio Personality, Restaurateur (House of Blues), Wine Maker, and now as distiller of Crystal Head Vodka.
He was in Albuquerque today doing a bottle signing with a line around the building. Time constraints did not allow a long chat, but we did have chance to speak via contemporary means. Here’s how it went……….
Chris: You have been involved with producing and distributing wine and spirits for several years. How did you get involved with this?
Dan Aykroyd: It started when I brought Pátron tequila to Canada. At first we couldn’t get Pátron to Canada, so we spoke to Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits and got them involved.
As it turned out, they also have four vineyards in Niagara producing really great reds and really powerful world-class whites. One of the executives said, “While we’re doing Pátron, why don’t we develop a line of wines?” So through the Pátron distributorship, I bought part of the Diamond Estate and I’m now an owner of the four vineyards as well.
The Crystal Head Vodka originates from an idea my friend artist John Alexander had. He’s been going to the Mexican “Day of the Dead” celebration for some time. He has been putting skulls in his artwork for years. He wanted put tequila in a glass skull. It was a brilliant idea, but I’m the importer of Patron into Canada, so that would be like Pepsi salesman drinking Coke.
Then it hit me – let’s bring back the Mitchell-Hedges skull that was found in the Yucatan. Then I thought, “Why not use a liquid that is a pure spirit?” and we created Crystal Head Vodka.
C: What is the most fascinating experience you have with the “invisible world”
DA: I am a spiritualist, a proud wearer of the spiritualist badge. My great-grandfather was a correspondent with Arthur Conan Doyle who was an author involved with the mediums and channeling activities that were going on at the time. I am a long-standing believer that there is more to these four dimensions that we live in.
C: What is the story behind the Crystal Heads?
DA: The story behind Crystal Head Vodka is one of positive spiritual energy. Thirteen of these polished skulls have been found on our planet. Eight are in the possession of individuals and institutions. Five are missing. Of the eight each one is unique. Some are green, orange, cloudy and crystal clear.
The origins of the skulls are controversial. However, everyone agrees that these beautiful pieces are symbols of enlightenment and hope for a better future. They are believed to be between 5,000 and 35,000 years old and appear to have been carved over a period of several hundred years – but they don’t bear any tool marks. Their very construction defies common logic.
They are believed to offer spiritual power to those who hold or possess them.
C: One of the Crystal Heads is believed to be here in the Southwest, specifically in New Mexico. Are you going to try to track it down while you’re here?
DA: I would love to explore, but I wouldn’t know where to begin!
C: Many vodka marketers emphasize multiple distillations but few talk about filtration. What care is taken with each in Crystal Head?
DA: Crystal Head Vodka is Quadruple distilled, then Triple filtered through polished crystals known as Herkimer Diamonds.
The filtration is the final and most important step in production. Herkimer diamonds are quartz formations, or crystals that are mined in Herkimer, New York. New age belief systems claim that Herkimer diamonds emit positive energy.
Crystal Head Vodka is a Pure Spirit free of any additives such as sugar, glycerin, or citrus oil.
C: I carry Crystal Head in my bar, and needless to say the bottle is a conversation piece when customers see it. What would you like people to know about Crystal Head brings them to a realm beyond “novelty”?
DA: Crystal Head Vodka is completely free of additives that other companies add to improve mouth-feel and smoothness. That’s what gives you the hangover – all the chemicals. Crystal Head has none of it.
It is definitely more than a novelty – Crystal Head Vodka actually received a 91 rating from The Tasting Panel magazine. It has a creamy and clean mouth feel that has a very slight kick of heat at the finish and a slight hint of vanilla undertones.
C: Are you planning on delving into other spirits in the future (forgive the pun)?
DA: My acting career, Crystal Head Vodka and other liquid libation projects keep me very busy!
C: Vodka is the number one selling liquor in the world right now. What would you say to those bartenders and mixologists who say Vodka is not a viable spirit category?
The proof of the liquid and the demand of the public is great. With many different countries (and even regions) producing their own vodka, consumers are interested more in the category now than ever before.
C: What is your favorite recipe using Crystal Head?
DA: A favorite recipe of mine is “The Cranium,” which uses Crystal Head Vodka, cranberry juice and a splash of grenadine.
- 1 1/2 oz. Crystal Head Vodka
- Cranberry juice
Method: Pour Crystal Head vodka and Cranberry juice over ice in a tall glass. Add splash of Grenadine (unstirred) on the top. Garnish with blood orange slice.
C: Thanks, Dan
Don’t be fooled: Crystal Head has it all going on. Authentic and a truly premium product in a cool package with a little history and little mysticism thrown in. Pure Spirit. Isn’t that what we all strive to be?
Visit the Crystal Head website here.