We caught up with the actor-musician-writer-distiller recently and asked him a bunch of questions, the first of which, of course, being Why Are You Making Vodka Anyway? Turn the page for the answers, plus a recipe for a Cranium cocktail. (Editor's note: as this interview was conducted via email, the exclamation points were supplied by Aykroyd.)Squid Ink: So how did you get into the spirit world, as it were? Before vodka, you became interested in wines and have your own label, Dan Aykroyd Wines. How did that come about?
Dan Aykroyd: It started when I brought Pátron tequila to Canada. At first we couldn't get Pátron to Canada, so we spoke to Diamond Estates Wine & Spirits and got them involved.
As it turned out, they also have four vineyards in Niagara producing really great reds and really powerful world-class whites. One of the executives said, "While we're doing Pátron, why don't we develop a line of wines?" So through the Pátron distributorship, I bought part of the Diamond Estate and I'm now an owner of the four vineyards as well.
SI: Why the bottle, which is in the shape of a skull? There must be a backstory to that.
DA: The Crystal Head Vodka originates from an idea my friend artist John Alexander had. He's been going to the Mexican "Day of the Dead" celebration for some time. He has been putting skulls in his artwork for years. He wanted put tequila in a glass skull. It was a brilliant idea, but I'm the importer of Patron into Canada, so that would be like Pepsi salesman drinking Coke.
Then it hit me -- let's bring back the Mitchell-Hedges skull that was found in the Yucatan. Then I thought, "Why not use a liquid that is a pure spirit?" and we created Crystal Head Vodka.
The story behind Crystal Head Vodka is one of positive spiritual energy. Thirteen of these polished skulls have been found on our planet. Eight are in the possession of individuals and institutions. Five are missing. Of the eight each one is unique. Some are green, orange, cloudy and crystal clear.
The origins of the skulls are controversial. However, everyone agrees that these beautiful pieces are symbols of enlightenment and hope for a better future. They are believed to be between 5,000 and 35,000 years old and appear to have been carved over a period of several hundred years - but they don't bear any tool marks. Their very construction defies common logic.
SI: The vodka is distilled through diamonds? Can you tell us about that?
DA: Crystal Head Vodka is quadruple distilled, then triple filtered through polished crystals known as Herkimer Diamonds.
The filtration is the final and most important step in production. Herkimer diamonds are quartz formations, or crystals that are mined in Herkimer, New York. New age belief systems claim that Herkimer diamonds emit positive energy.
Crystal Head Vodka is a pure spirit free of any additives such as sugar, glycerin, or citrus oil.
SI: So how much of the New Age belief system do you personally follow, if we may ask?