Dan Aykroyd's vodka gets new five-year deal

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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Crystal Head needs no crystal ball

The future of Crystal Head vodka is crystal clear for the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. (NLC).

Monday - when the one millionth bottle of the spirit co-created by actor Dan Aykroyd rolled off its production line - the NLC announced it had reached a five-year deal with Globefill, the vodka's distributor.

(From left) Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. board chairman Glenn Tobin, NLC president and CEO Steve Winter and Andrew Stodart of Globefill mark the production of the one millionth bottle of Crystal Head Vodka Monday. - Submitted photo

The future of Crystal Head vodka is crystal clear for the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. (NLC).

Monday - when the one millionth bottle of the spirit co-created by actor Dan Aykroyd rolled off its production line - the NLC announced it had reached a five-year deal with Globefill, the vodka's distributor.

"I guess, really, (the contract) demonstrates our ability to handle premium products for sale anywhere in the world," said Wally Dicks, NLC's vice-president of supply chain management.

Aykroyd created Crystal Head with American landscape artist and portraitist John Alexander.

The actor told The Telegram last year that during a chat about his wine and tequila ventures, Alexander expressed a desire to bottle tequila in a skull.

"I said, 'Well I can't do that. Let's do a vodka,'" Aykroyd said.

The artist quickly sketched a skull on a napkin and the rest is vodka history.

Aykroyd's tequila and wine distributors had an NLC connection and inquired about getting the corporation involved with Crystal Head.

The original intent was to do 5,000 cases, or 30,000 bottles.

That the one millionth was produced yesterday shows sales have exceeded expectations.

In fact, 46,000 cases were sold in the first year.

"Hitting this (million-bottle) milestone just six months later is a testament to the quality of our product and our ability to carve out a vibrant niche even in the crowded vodka category," Aykroyd said in a release.

Crystal Head is promoted as pure spirit free of additives that uses Newfoundland water. It is quadruple-distilled and triple-filtered through Herkimer diamond crystals. It has received high ratings from industry magazines.

The vodka has an interesting marketing hook, too - hardly surprising given the "Ghostbusters" star's involvement.

The skull-shaped bottle is said to celebrate the mystical legend of the 13 crystal heads possessed by cultures such as the Aztec, Mayan and Navajo.

"The legend is (that of) the crystal heads, which, as you know, there were 13, seven in mankind's possession, (and they were) supposed to have psychic powers in terms of predicting the future, analyzing the past and helping to manage the present," Aykroyd explained in last year's interview.

"Even if you believe in this stuff or not, when you start in the beverage industry, you've got to have a story. You can't just walk in with a nice package and the fluid in it. You've got to have a story behind it because bartenders like to tell stories. The mixologist is kind of a new psychologist of the age."

To date, only 750-millilitre bottles have been on the market and the product was only sold in Canada and the U.S.

Crystal Head is about to be introduced in Europe, the Pacific Rim and Central and South America. As well, 1,750-, 700- and 50-ml bottles will soon roll off the line.

"As this thing takes off, with respect to different sizes and different parts of the world, we're hoping to see that growth here as well," Dicks said.

Fifteen people are employed at the NLC related to the vodka's production.

Dicks would not disclose how much the new deal was worth.

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: NLC, Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor, The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Canada, U.S. Europe Pacific Rim

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