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WOO IN REVIEW: Crystal Head Vodka PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   
WOO IN REVIEW: Crystal Head Vodka

Available in bars and liquor stores for $12/shot or between $50 and $250/bottle

 crystalhead

A few months ago, when the promotional video for Crystal Head Vodka was first released, there was some doubt about whether or not it was a real product and whether or not Dan Aykroyd had totally flipped his cheeseburger.

 

All I can say is: Aykroyd's cheeseburger was flipped long ago – he is a lifetime member of and consultant for MUFON. He also hosted the television show Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal which, though it was a scripted drama, earned him the Snuffed Candle Award from CSI.

So the vodka he helped create is, of course, also insanely woo. And I mean insanely.

 

Crystal Head Vodka is based on the thirteen crystal skulls that have been found around the world, and which some people believe contain mystical powers. They heal, they talk to each other. They may have been created by beings from Atlantis. Or by aliens.

 

People say the skulls have no tool marks to indicate that human beings made them. Some have said that even if humans did make them, it would take between three hundred and five hundred years to do so. And unnamed physicists apparently also said that the skulls should have shattered in the course of creation.

 

I can feel you rolling your eyes out there, and if you watch the promotional video for the vodka, you will roll them hard enough to rip the space-time continuum. It isn't just the series of incredibly stupid sentences pressing up against each other like teenagers on Lovers' Lane. It's the fact that the video deeply resembles an ad for timeshares, or an invitation to join the Hair Club for Men.

 

And it was the sensation of fakery that made the promotional video for Crystal Head Vodka seem like brilliant satire. For instance, Aykroyd pointed out that “half the world believes in such [paranormal] phenomena” as ghosts, aliens, and the existence of the soul. And for those of us who saw the video and may have thought Aykroyd was a very smart man, it was difficult to believe that he had never heard of the argumentum ad populum fallacy. Not only that, but his numbers were wrong – a much greater portion of the population believes those things. It seemed that Aykroyd might actually be aware of the fallacy, and be making a little joke about it.

 

He said the kinds of things that make skeptics retch a little, and said them with a straight face. For instance, that we live in “a world serving positive projections wherein you use your own personal and mental spiritual abilities to believe and subsequently make true the things you want to happen for yourself.”

 

I'm still not positive what that sentence means.

 

When individuals began posting online that they had found liquor stores that sell Crystal Head Vodka, and that all the individuals mentioned in the promotional video were real, it became clear that Aykroyd was not, in fact, kidding. He is not a king of satire.

 

The Crystal Head Vodka bottle was designed by artist John Alexander in association with Bruni Glass, and was in development for two years. Just the bottle. Seriously. The Newfoundland Liquor Corporation, with the help of Dan Aykroyd made the vodka to go inside it. Dan Aykroyd does have some prior experience with alcohol (and I don't mean that he's a drunkard, though I deeply hope he was wasted for the entirety of that video), as he has his own line of wines, which may or may not also have paranormal powers, I'm not sure.

 

The vodka is, according to Aykroyd, “joy in the form of a very pure alcoholic beverage.” It is quadruple distilled, and then filtered through Herkimer diamonds. Yes. Quartz crystal. I do not know how that helps the purity, or in fact how you can “filter” vodka through a crystal at all. And Dan Aykroyd promises the the result is astounding, and that you will love the slight "creamy sweetness" of Crystal Head Vodka.

 

I was very excited when JREF Communication and Outreach Manager Jeff Wagg noticed the bottle of Crystal Head Vodka at Liquidity, a bar in the Luxor hotel and casino. What an opportunity to experience joy in a bottle, and feel the spiritual awakening of... vodka.crystalhead2

 

So, he and I had a shot each of Crystal Head Vodka. Later, I shared another with JREF Forumite Doubt.

 

I wouldn't call the experience a spiritual awakening so much as a gag reflex awakening. But let's get reactions all around.

 

“It tastes like acetone,” Wagg said. He paused for a moment as if about to add something more, but did not mention creamy sweetness at all.

 

“Yeah,” he said, “It tastes like acetone.”

 

Jeff doesn't really have a favorite brand of vodka. He is more of a gin drinker. To him, all vodkas taste basically the same to the point that, when in a bar, he will order the well vodka if he's going to drink it at all. But in Crystal Head, an exception was created.

 

“[Crystal Head Vodka] tasted far more like alcohol than normal vodka,” he said, “It reminded me of Everclear.”

 

At this point, my lips had begun to burn. Not that pleasant alcohol type of burn. More like I had just eaten a plate of wasabi. Even now, just writing this, my stomach is slightly cramping with the reminder of the taste of Crystal Head Vodka.

 

“I think it's like nail polish remover,” I said.

 

The only positive side, and it's an iffy positive side, was that I felt a little light-headed after only half a drink.

 

When Doubt and I shared a drink of Crystal Head Vodka a few days later, I was struck again by the incredible likeness in taste to nail polish remover (don't ask me how I know how nail polish tastes) – so much so that I actually poured some onto a napkin and attempted to remove my nail polish. Shockingly, it didn't work.

 

While I was doing that, Doubt took a sip and paled slightly.

 

Paint thinner,” he said.

I think the funniest part is probably that, independently of one another, all of us said essentially the same thing. Jeff said "acetone." I said "nail polish remover," an ingredient of which is acetone. Doubt said "paint thinner," an ingredient of which is acetone.

 

Doubt says that the best kind of vodka he has ever tried was Stoli. I prefer Grey Goose.

 

No one in their right mind would prefer Crystal Head Vodka, which I suppose makes perfect sense since Dan Aykroyd seems to like it.

 

CRYSTAL HEAD VODKA: 0 out of 5 stars, and if you must try it, please be of legal drinking age.

 

FURTHER READING:

 

The Vodka Companion: A Connoisseur's Guide by Desmond Begg


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I didn't know the Mayans make Vodka
written by Kaldi, January 01, 2009
I was led to believe that Vodka was some sort of Russian thing. Anywho, I saw the bottle in the liquor store and not having seen any promotional video for it I was determined to buy a bottle, one day. I haven't done it yet as the price is a little steep, my favorite Vodkas are Russian Standard and/or Ketel One, both of which sell for less than half the price of Crystal Head. I did not know, until now, that the bottle was created by a magical Ancient civilization, I thought it had more to do with Halloween than...you know, magical skulls that somehow communicate with one another. Anyway, good to know as I will skip this hefty priced acetone flavored Vodka, although I do still like the bottle, as I am a lover of the macabre.
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written by DZiemke, January 02, 2009
I'd buy the Bass-o-Matic before I'd buy this bottle of dribble. The vodka must taste like battery acid if they have to put it in a skull and tell you it has mystical powers in order sell it.
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written by cwniles, January 02, 2009
They took two years to design the bottle and forgot the obvious inclusion of crossbones to clearly mark the contents as poison?

Actually a skull and crossbones bottle would be pretty cool....and I bet I could get it designed a whole lot quicker than two years.
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Bottoms Up!
written by Willy K, January 02, 2009
Could it be possible that the vodka came out of another part of the human anatomy?
Who would like a shot of Crystal Butt Vodka.... anyone? smilies/cheesy.gif
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written by bigjohn756, January 02, 2009
I'd buy it just for the neat looking bottle. If I thought it was really bad after drinking a sample or two, I'd run through a Pur or Brita water filter a few times to remove the impurities. It is possible to render even the cheapest vodka quite drinkable using one of these filters.
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filtering through quartz
written by LovleAnjel, January 02, 2009
Speaking geologically, quartz sand is an excellent filter-- it's how most groundwater gets naturally cleaned-- over extremely long periods of time. I doubt they've spent fifty years straining their vodka through miles of sand, tho.
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written by Paul Claessen, January 02, 2009
What's next? A Single Malt in a pyramid shaped bottle?

Hey WAIT... that was MY idea!
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written by Paul Claessen, January 02, 2009
I had a closer look at that bottle, and I was shocked!
It took my breath away.
I'll have to call the "media"!
For I can CLEARLY see Jesus' face in that bottle!

A long time dead Jesus, but still...
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No Surprise here
written by MJG, January 02, 2009
With so-called "super premium" Vodkas spiking in popularity in recent years, there have been quite a few studies that have shown that in blind taste tests, these 80 dollar a bottle vodka do no better than a decent well vodka. It's all about marketing, packaging, and the power of suggestion. Don't dare mention that to a vodka snob though, they'll swear up and down that the expensive stuff is far and away superior. Really, it was just a matter of time before the Woo crowd put their own spin on this scam.
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I learn so much here! Who would have thunk it?!
written by Kaldi, January 02, 2009
Thanks for the tip about the Brita pitcher. I did not know that! And I do have to agree with MJG, never pay more than $20 for a bottle of Vodka. Russian Standard sells for $16-19 a bottle and is good/smooth as any expensive Vodka on the market.
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written by Starthinker, January 02, 2009
As a fine connesiur of vodkas I sure wish I could try some. There are fine subtleties involved. I just can't afford the price tag and no one else I know drinks it.
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written by Random, January 02, 2009
Grey Goose is good, but it's not worth the extra price over Stolichnaya. This stuff sounds to be undrinkable.
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written by Paul Erickson, January 02, 2009
The only thing I can guess is Dan has been sampling too much of his own product, or was accidentally struck too many times in the head from a proton stream from a Ghostbusters Proton Pack.
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written by yarro, January 02, 2009
Weren't all those crystal skulls debunked aeons ago as late 19th century forgeries made in France?
Is that crystal skull craze still going on. I once saw one on display in London in 1985. Never made the connection to vodka though. Maybe it's because I'm a down to earth ale man myself. Mind you, I like to drink it from the skulls of my slain foes. smilies/grin.gif smilies/grin.gif

While we're on the subject of Vodka.
Ketel One Vodka is really smooth.
Hard to come by though in the Netherlands.
Try Ketel One Genever or Bols Corenwyn. Ultra smoooooove Dutch gin.
For the connaisseurs.

Mythbusters did a Vodka myth. Apparently it is indeed possible to improve Vodka by filtering it at home.
However a bad Vodka will never become ace.
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Vodka tastings and pyramid wines...
written by colin_young, January 02, 2009
In Las Vegas, assuming it's still on the menu, the vodka tasting at Red Square in Mandalay Bay is worth trying. I'm not a vodka drinker, but you can easily taste the differences between the different vodkas. Very enlightening (to me).

Now I can't point you to a single malt in a pyramid bottle, but I can point you to wine aged in a pyramid: http://www.summerhill.bc.ca/. I first came across this place in about 1994 when every other winery in the valley asked us "have you been to Summerhill yet?" "No." "You have to go there. The owner is a complete nutcase." So we went and sure enough they proudly told us all about how the wine was aged in an exact replica of the Great Pyramid of Cheops to improve it's flavour. At the time we thought it not half-bad. Of course, every time I visit the Okanagan, I have to visit Summerhill, and every time it's just become nuttier, and several years ago they actually built a pyramid in their parking lot.

To be fair they do produce a good wine (although no better than many of the other non-pyramid enhanced wineries in the valley) even if it is a bit pricey, and they have (had?) a decent restaurant attached. And the view is beautiful.

I should note that there is another winery in the valley with a sign proclaiming it "Official Ogopogo Siting Station #[something or other]". I think in their case it is intended more in jest, and the venue may explain any sightings...
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Finally!
written by lukedoughaines@hotmail.co, January 02, 2009
As a long-time viewer and no-time commenter on Swift, I'm slightly relieved to see this article. I'm a full-time cocktail bar manager and (if I'm honest) drunk right now, and felt the urge to add my two cents. With any vodka, any taste at all comes from impurities. For example, the respective impurities of Russian Standard create a typical Russian vodka; peppery and oily.
The difference between Russian and Polish vodka is much like the difference between Scotch and Irish whisky; in as much as we can discern from history, the Scottish invented it and the Irish smoothed it out. Simillarly, the Russians most likely invented vodka, but the Polish tend to explore it more. Polish vodka is much like French wine; certain types can compliment certain types of meal. Wybrowka, for example, is an excellent Polish vodka, which also happens to be what I personally would describe as sweet and creamy.
In the late eighties, Scandinavian vodkas came to prominence. This was largely due to Chernobyl. (For some picky reason, people didn't want to drink spirits that were brewed under a cloud of radioactive dust.) Scandinavian vodka, by contrast, tends to be vey pure, clear and, for want of a better word, tasteless. Absolut would be a prime example.
So, without having tasted the Mystic Skull Vodka, it all stands to reason. The more you filter something, the fewer impurities (ie: taste characteristics) it has, and eventually we arrive at the point where it tastes like nothing but raw alcohol. Which, one imagines, would taste like acetone.
Apologies for the geeky lecture. As I say, I've had a couple, and as my subject line states, I finally felt like things were playing to my personal area of expertise.
Would love to know what Jeff's favourite gin is...
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written by JeffWagg, January 02, 2009
@Luke

This may disappoint you, but I'm not much of a gin connoisseur ... I'm actually fine with Seagrams. If I get to choose, I'll probably pick Bombay Sapphire. I'm much more picky about rum, preferring Barbancourt to just about anything, with Appleton following and finally Myers if that's all I can get.. I usually drink it neat, and sadly have just exhausted the case of 5 year old I purchased in Haiti 3 years ago. Gin and tonic is a new thing for me, and it's actually the tonic I'm more interested in. smilies/smiley.gif

So much for the notion that skeptics don't drink.
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Poor Dan...
written by tjenks, January 02, 2009
Has anyone else noticed that Dan Aykroyd has morphed into the kind of creep that he actually used to parody on SNL?!
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written by dmoorepool, January 02, 2009
"So much for the notion that skeptics don't drink."

Some of us are even in the wine and spirits business. So we can believe in spirits. Fermentation is scientific.
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I wanted one :(
written by Qyiet, January 02, 2009
I thought the skull bottle was neat. But given the review, I'm not going to pay that sort of premium for it.

I've got to plug some local product. 42 Below vodka. Made in NZ, and some of the very best.

My measurable test was at this new years eve party the 42 below was the first bottle finished (we had a few smilies/smiley.gif ). The stollie was untouched. It will probably be hard to find in the US, but worth a go if you can.
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written by Caller X, January 03, 2009
The few vodkas I've tasted all taste like alcohol and potatoes (I know that some vodkas are made without potatoes). I
DO know how you know what acetone tastes like. You don't taste acetone, you smell it. Acetone IS nail-polish remover, not an ingredient in it. Everything else is adulterants. Of course, if you're drinking nail-polish, you're probably a cutter. Are you a cutter?

It sounds like you got a defective (adulterated) batch. Did you think to run a sample through a gas chromatograph? No? I didn't think so.

If there's such a thing as an exact opposite of a double-blind test, your methodology here is it.
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Disgusting
written by Ian Mason, January 03, 2009
Would you drink a brew someone's given head in? Would you drink from the skulls of your enemies? Has Dan A been at the absinthe or really touched by the spirits? O my shining stars and body, what rot. Gut-rot that will rot your brain. At least that much is guaranteed.
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Wrong shape for Dan
written by headsfilledwithmush, January 03, 2009
I mean, he played a cone headed alien so why not a cone shaped skull. At least hew would be consistant. Kidding aside, these celebrities will hawk just about anything for a price. The old appeal to status or fame conection for advertisers. Dan supposedly believes in it, drinks it and approves of it, then so should you. The nerve of JREF to question such authority, really. LOL
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You got a bad batch
written by Caller X, January 04, 2009
I got some friends to go in on some yesterday and it tastes just like alcohol and potatoes. Took the leftovers in to work today and ran through the gas chromatograph. No acetone present. You either got a bad batch or a bad attitude which colored your "findings".
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The Skull shaped bottle is cool
written by fatewilleatyou, January 04, 2009
Has anyone examined it for anatomical correctness?

I like mixing vodka with tonic water or Juicy Juice. I've always read that quality doesn't matter much if you not drinking it straight. At the moment I'm sipping on some Grey Goose that my partner was given as a birthday present. It is nicer than our usual Bankers Club. Plastic bottles are also easier to carry for we city dwelling pedestrians.

Maybe to compete someone will make economical vodka in a plastic skull bottle?

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written by Steel Rat, January 04, 2009
I think drinking is rather silly anyway, so this whole thing just makes me go Hmm (not just the Crystal thing, but even attempting to drink the crap.)

Having said that, you guys should have at least made the ATTEMPT at a double blind study and had a disinterested third party pour the drinks and mix up the glasses for you. I mean, you were obviously biased...
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Vision From Feeling
written by VisionFromFeeling, January 05, 2009
If everyone seems to agree that it is so familiar to acetone... why not have someone chemically test to see if it is in fact acetone? Maybe it is? Has the FDA tested and approved it?
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written by nelson650, January 05, 2009
Rubbing alchohol tastes better than this swill!
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wodka ...
written by MadScientist, January 05, 2009
Personally I used to go for some brand from Poland - I forget the name now (I'm no longer allowed any booze - bah).

Now, why does the author (and apparently a few others) say the swill reminds them of acetone? If there's any acetone in there you've got a nice lawsuit. smilies/smiley.gif

I'm not so interested in the vodka as the skulls - anyone know where I can get one of these? I mean cheaply of course. If anyone knows where I can get the rest of the skeleton done in 'crystal' (whatever that means) that'd be fantastic.
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written by schubertiad, January 06, 2009
I must say I do prefer Grey Goose to Stoli. Stoli is definitely a lot edgier, and Grey Goose is much smoother and cleaner. I have both and sampled them as vodka tonics, both with Canada Dry tonic water and lemon. Both were good, but definitely different.
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