Sometimes, it just makes sense for a celebrity to get behind a product. Chuck Norris endorsed the Total Gym home fitness system. Why? Because we don’t like to think of Chuck Norris on the couch, wiping Doritos dust on his pants while flipping through channels. Michael Phelps once endorsed Speedo, and David Beckham paired up with Adidas. Again, this makes sense.
However, we aren’t to be duped when some celebrities get behind products for strictly monetary reasons. Smell like Britney Spears? No thanks. Drink Ron Jeremy’s rum? Definitely not, for so many reasons.
Whether it’s to fill their own over-stressed coffers or to boost the brand’s sales, there are sometimes less-than-forthright reasons that celebrities come with a label. The alcohol business is particularly susceptible to this. When Dan Aykroyd launched Crystal Head, a four-times-distilled vodka, the bottle was immediately reminiscent of his Ghostbusters days. What’s inside this clear, skull-shaped bottle has some merit, though.
Aykroyd’s a working brand ambassador, rather than just a famous face. He’s been popping up in bars unannounced, buying rounds for customers, and preaching the merits of drinking pure products. In a world where vodka is celebrated for a lack of flavour, it’s refreshing to see a celebrity like Aykroyd—a man beloved for his sense of humour as well as his acting chops—bring us an ice cold glass and one of the coolest bottle designs on the shelf. It’s even more refreshing that this vodka is something worth purchasing, even if the ghostbuster wasn’t in the picture.
“I’ve always been a collaborator throughout my creative life,” Aykroyd says. “Anything that deserves my focus must have not only a slight chance of success but a sound team of partners to execute the concept. When it came to vodka, I simply wanted to make something in that category better.
“When trying different vodkas a few years ago, I noted an over viscosity and an artificial sweetness in many products,” he explains. “Too much glycerol in this one, too much citrus oil in the other. Also, most have added sugar. I thought surely we could achieve a better, more naturally smooth taste and mouth feel. So with three partners we set down the vodka path.”
That yellow brick road led first to a great water source. Crystal Head’s water comes from a glacial aquifer under Newfoundland, Canada. Aykroyd and his team kept things pure to a point that’s obvious in the finished sip, where you’ll find hints of vanilla and a nice hit of heat. “It took many tries, but we eventually were able to find the right balance on distillations, water, grains, and filtrations to create a great additive-free vodka,” Aykroyd says. His team uses Canadian peaches and cream corn to create the gluten-free spirit, and, according to the brand, it’s filtered seven times, the last three filtrations sent through Herkimer diamonds. But who’s to say that doesn’t help? There may be something to Aykroyd championing purity.
His main objective is ensuring the quality of the liquid in the bottle stands, but this product also comes with a signature splash in packaging. A blown glass skeletal head, crafted in Milan, makes this vodka kind of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s happily devious and whimsical, a bottle you don’t throw out once it’s empty.
“The story behind Crystal Head Vodka starts with two artists, my good friend John Alexander, the American landscape painter, and myself, the writer-actor” Aykroyd explains. “We were inspired by a legend of crystal skulls. According to the legend, 13 crystal skulls held by native tribes in the Americas, [as well as by] the Navajo, Aztec, and Maya, can be used to project positive energy and enlightenment. John and I sought to craft a bottle worthy of one of the world’s purest vodkas. John drafted, I consulted, and together we envisioned the head—not a skull, but a head, a symbol of life to reflect the legend’s message of spiritual power and enlightenment.”
And while the bottle definitely resembles a skull (sorry Dan Aykroyd), it certainly makes a good gift for the holiday season. Nothing says “Happy Holidays” quite like a good bottle of booze, and this one’s even kosher certified.