You may have spotted glass skulls grinning from the shelves of your local liquor store these days. These visaged vessels are the rather distinctive packaging of Crystal Head Vodka, a new superpremium spirit that has been selling extremely well since its release in July, 2009.
I have to admit that, at first, the bottle’s shape led me to believe that this was just another gimmicky vodka, a product aimed at those who care more about image than taste. Being somewhat of a vodka-lover myself, I usually stick to Belvedere or Wybrowa Exquisite – served straight-up and directly from the freezer, of course. I couldn’t have been more wrong about Crystal Head: inside that smiling noggin is a clean, dry, crisp-tasting vodka that impressed both myself and my Ukranian, vodka-connoisseur family members. Needless to say, there was at least one nearly-empty skull on the table by the end of the night.
The quality of the drink is reflected in the price: a 0.75 L skull costs $49.98 at the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation and a 1.75 L skull will run you $110.97. Of course, the packaging (made by Bruni Glass) might have something to do with the price tag; in the case of Crystal Head Vodka, however, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
One reason for the great taste might be what’s missing from Crystal Head: it doesn’t have any additives such as glycol, citrus oil or sugar that are found in many other vodkas, often in such low quantities that they do not have to be reported on the bottle. Another little-known fact is that this delicious spirit is made right here in Newfoundland using Newfoundland water and Canadian grain. “We chose Newfoundland because of the purity of their land and water,” says Dan Akroyd, co-founder of Crystal Head.
The bottle’s shape is inspired by what the company website calls a “controversial archaeological mystery.” It’s modeled after the legendary crystal skulls whose ‘discoverers’ claim are of Aztec or Mayan origin and wield magical powers. It would seem, however, that every one of the skulls that was made available for analysis was found to have been made in the 19th century or later, when trade in fake pre-Columbian artifacts was escalating. I’m willing to put legends and supernatural powers aside and enjoy this product for what it is: a great-tasting vodka that comes in a bottle that is sure to start conversations among your guests.
The vodka is quadruple-distilled and thrice-filtered through both charcoal and Herkimer diamonds (a type of crystal found in New York, Tibet and Afghanistan). Although I’m not entirely sure how crystal-filtering is supposed to affect flavour, I won’t argue with the result. I will definitely be drinking this vodka again in the future. Perhaps I’ll need to invest in a bigger freezer…
Crystal Head Vodka is available in limited quantities in most provinces, except in Ontario – the LCBO has deemed the bottle’s shape to be too sinister and has refused to carry the product in its stores. Ontarians still have the option of making private orders through the Liquor Commission if they so desire. If you’re lucky enough to live in Newfoundland, however, you’ll find the vodka in ready supply at the liquor store.
Link to Crystal Head Vodka’s website: crystalheadvodka.com
Thanks to Karen Chappell for the photo – visit her website and photo-a-day blog at www.bitstop.ca