We sat down with Dan Aykroyd, co-founder of Crystal Head Vodka.
Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m Dan Aykroyd, actor, comedian, musician and co-founder of Crystal Head Vodka. You may know me as Ray Stanz from Ghostbusters or Elwood Blues from The Blues Brothers. I am from Ontario, Canada, and my favourite cocktail is a martini. Just 2.5 ounces of the Head, shaken up in a Martini glass with a little shaving of ice in there. Add a twist, and before the pour, just a rinse of fine white vermouth. These go down so easily…
Tell us a little about your brand…
Crystal Head is vodka by creatives - for creatives. Creativity is at the heart of everything we do. We craft the purest, smoothest vodka with one-of-a-kind packaging and imaginative thinking. Crystal Head uses only the highest-quality ingredients to create unique expressions of ultra-premium vodka. Our original vodka is crafted from locally sourced Canadian corn, offering a silky-smooth vodka with a hint of sweetness and vanilla. Aurora uses the highest-quality English wheat, offering a crisp, drier, bolder vodka. Our latest expression of vodka, Onyx, is the first commercially available agave-based vodka with subtle hints of agave, citrus, green grass and white pepper. All our Crystal Head expressions are blended with the pristine water from Newfoundland, Canada and filtered through Herkimer diamonds. Crystal Head Vodka is always free from any oils, sugars or additives.
Why did you create your brand?
I first got involved in the beverage alcohol industry when I brought Patron tequila to Canada. That's where it all started. Over 10 years, we built it into Canada's #1 luxury tequila brand. I then started looking into other categories. To me, vodka always had this fake, overly viscous, artificially sweetened taste and smelled like perfume. Everyone seemed to be doing the same thing. I learned that vodka manufacturers add ingredients like glycerol, citrus oils and sugars to mask the vodka taste and smell. So, with Crystal Head Vodka, we set out to create a pure and clean liquid - free from all additives. Made with pristine water from Newfoundland and good mash. My good friend and renowned artist, John Alexander, designed the iconic skull-shaped bottle and together, we created Crystal Head Vodka.
What are the highs and lows of owning your own brand?
There are many highs and lows of owning your own business and getting it off the group, especially when you aren't cutting any corners. The skull-shaped bottle took nearly two years to perfect. Finding someone who could successfully create such a complex bottle was a challenge. Every bottle is hand-inspected and takes up to 16 times longer to make than a standard bottle. Leading glass manufacturers produce it in Europe, and it actually contains bits of crystal to achieve absolute clarity. It's a long process, but we do not cut any corners.
The highs are being recognized for a job well done. We have been awarded over 30 accolades internationally for our unique package and ultra-premium vodka expressions. These recognitions are a reminder of all the hard work, passion and innovative thinking that goes into the brand from the Crystal Head team.
Any exciting brand news we need to know about?
We will continue to use our creativity and innovative thinking to disrupt the industry with our award-winning expressions of vodka. We have some very exciting projects on the go that we are eager to release in the UK, including a new design for our 2023 Pride bottle. We can't give anything away just yet but follow us on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for brand updates. @cystalheadvodka
What do you love about the UK cocktail scene?
The UK cocktail scene is among the most creative and exciting worldwide. The practitioners there study their recipes molecularly but always with passion and pride.
Favourite hangout spot?
My favourite hang-out is the Grenadier Pub off Hyde Park corner at 4:45 pm.
What’s the one item you couldn’t live without?
My 2003 Anniversary Edition Harley Davidson Road King Police model motorcycle.
What are your five desert island discs?
Mingus Ah Um – Charlie Mingus
East West – Paul Butterfield
Between the Buttons – Rolling Stones
Best of the Animals – Eric Burden and the Animals
Briefcase Full of Blues – Blues Brothers featuring Duck Dunn and Steve Cropper.
And finally, what one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Creativity is key in everything you do. Do not stick to common industry standards. Break barriers and do things your own way.