Crystal Head is in limited production, and has been introduced so far in key cities in just five states: San Diego, California; Orlando and Miami, Florida; Dallas and Houston, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Las Vegas, Nevada.
The official kickoff was September 21-23, 2008, at the San Diego House of Blues and similar events in the other cities also took place at the local House of Blues (except in Miami, which doesn’t have one).
A total of 5,400 cases of the 80-proof beverage was divided between these venues. At each location, the planners ran out of their product within a few hours or days.
Why House of Blues?
House of Blues was a logical choice. This nationwide chain of 13 clubs features southern and African-American music, including the blues, rhythm and blues, gospel, jazz and roots-abed rock & roll. Actor Dan Aykroyd, a partner in House of Blues, also is the primary owner of Crystal Head Vodka.
Aykroyd, best known for having written and acted in in the 1984 movie Ghost Busters, was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and retains strong Canadian business ties. His alcohol interests include Alloy Brands Inc., which in 2005 acquired the Canadian distribution rights for two ultra-premium tequila brands, Patron Silver and Patron Anejo, and for Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd.
Aykroyd is more than a celebrity spokesperson for Crystal Head Vodka and his wine interests. Aykroyd’s four Canadian wineries are in Niagara Falls, Ontario. His California wine connection is with DeLoach Wineries in Sonoma County, California.
Why limited production?
Crystal Head Vodka’s production limitations have nothing to do with distillation. The problem is with the bottle.
The Indiana Jones movies mention 13 crystal skulls sequestered in various parts of the world under mysterious circumstances hundreds or thousands of years ago. Seven allegedly have been found. The Crystal Head Vodka bottle is intended as a replica of those skulls.
Originally, American portrait and sculpture artist John Alexander approached Aykroyd with an idea for a tequila in a skull. Alexander designed a glass skull for Aykroyd and assigned his patent to Globefill Inc., an Ontario company in which Aykroyd holds a major interest.
“Aykroyd liked the skull idea, but wanted to do something different,” says Jonathan Hemi, vice president of Globefill Inc. “He wanted to make a pure vodka with no additives in Newfoundland, Canada.
“We have only found one glass blower in the world – Bruni Glass, S.p.A., in Italy – who makes our skull perfectly with no blemishes or bubbles. We continue to look for a North American glass company that can produce perfect skulls.
“We approached the Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation, owned by the Newfoundland provincial government, to make our vodka in the corporation’s own distillery. They already make a variety of rums and iceberg vodka with water from a deep glacial pool. We wanted to make our vodka with no additives, and to distill it three times through active charcoal, with the final filtration through doubly terminated quartz crystals or diamonds from Herkimer County, New York.”
For any spirits company, an eight-month delay in meeting demand is both a joy and frustration. In Florida, at least, Crystal Head Vodka has begun to flow. Cases continue to be sold as soon as they arrive at Premier Beverage Company of Florida, Crystal Head Vodka’s wholesaler. Premier has five Florida warehouses – in Jacksonville, Orlando, Pensacola, Tampa, and Miramar (which serves Miami-Dade and Broward counties).
Liquor stores carrying Crystal Head Vodka in Florida include Sunset Corners Fine Wines & Spirits, 8701 Sunset Drive, Miami FL 33173, 305-271-8492; and the ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and Total Wine & More chains.
As production increases, Crystal Head Vodka will begin to open up new markets. Until then, watch for it in the cities where it is sold.
Taste and mystique
Visit Crystal Head Vodka’s Web site to learn what Dan Aykroyd says about his new vodka, which was designed to be the purest tasting vodka on the market. Aykroyd describes it as having “a slight creamy sweetness.”