Movie star Dan Aykroyd is becoming as well known for his award-winning premium vodka, crystal head, as he is for making us laugh. We spoke to him from his Canadian home ahead of his last trip to Australia to promote the vodka.
Good to speak with you again, Dan. You’re coming back to Australia – does that mean Crystal Head has done well here?
Australians got it right away. There’s a hipness and a coolness and a sophisticated consumer intelligence in Australia. It was really one of the first countries that got what we were doing – seeing the skull not- a symbol of doom but as a symbol of life and enlightened drinking, of nature and purity.
You’ve hammered the message about the fact Crystal Head is a pure expression and contains no additives. Has that message triumphed over the eye-catchIng packaging by now?
The consumer, once they try it- if it’s priced properly in the on-premise bar environment – they get to sample it and they don’t go back to the vodkas that contain glyceride or limonene citrus oil. And it’s connecting with the professional barman because it’s a blank canvas. The professional molecular mixologist can make age-eat clean cocktail with the Head. What I do now with it is just take two ounces, put it in a shaker with ice, shake it up and pour it into a glass with nothing in it. No lime, not a rinse of vermouth, no olives. Try it just cold and shaken like that and you go, wow, this is an enlightening thing.
Give is a visual picture of you drinking a Martini…
Before dinner, especially down here at the lake, we take a shaker and sit down by the dock and take a swim and then get in a nice fluffy white robe and shake one up while watching the sun dapple the water. Then we try to avoid the mosquitos. When the flying raptors come out, it’s time to have the next one inside by the fire, you know.
What is special about the new version, Crystal Head Aurora, you’re releasing in Australia?
We wanted to do another expression of vodka, a wheat expression, with grain sourced from the UK, and this one is going to make the most unbelievable Bloody Caesars and Bloody Marys. It will be drier than the first one. Again, we’re pitching the idea of purity, of nature, and the Aurora Borealis Northern Lights is one of the most wonderful natural phenomena we can see on this planet. We began to explore the process of manufacturing a bottle that would convey some of the beauty of the Northern Lights and let mercy ifs going to be pretty spectacular.
Crystal Head has won a number of big international awards now – are they important?
The awards help to build awareness but it’s mainly the industry recognition where we can go, yep, we’re doing something right here. This is not a gimmick, this is not a hoax, this really is worthy of its slot as the world’s premium vodka brand. At the World Spirits Competition in San Francisco, we got a 91 plus rating, and that’s using no oils or additives. That’s like me getting 78 in Math or something.
Last time you spoke or Men’s Style the Crystal Head business was taking about 25 percent of your time –is this still case?
Well, interweaving family and personal obligations, and then the live music I do with Jimmy Belushi – the Blues Brothers Former Classic All Star Show Band and Revue – that takes about 25 per cent of my time and now Crystal Head takes maybe 50 per cent. There’s also the work I’m going to do with Ivan Reitman on our new venture Ghost Corps where were going to reinvigorate the Ghostbusters concept and banner and premise for a series of movies and projects, we hope.
Did you mean for this to become so time-consuming?
I didn’t need to start the business. I didn’t need to do something else, I was busy enough in life as it was, but I really didn’t like the way that when you open some bottles of vodka they smell like perfume. No, no, no, what is that!? It’s citrus oil, limonene… get that out of there! They were so oily and bogus tasting and so I did it because I found quality and I wanted to bring that to the world. Hey, you work hard all week, why settle for something lesser. It’s a premium brand, yes, but it’s an affordable luxury. I can’t go out and buy me a Bentley Mulsanne but l can go out and buy a case of Head and impress my guests.