Review: Crystal Head Aurora Vodka

Remember Crystal Head Vodka, the Dan Aykroyd-conceived spirit that wrapped UFOs, ectoplasm, and other planes of existence into the mythology of a bottle of 80-proof booze? Well, 10 years later, Crystal Head is back with a new, special edition called Aurora, complete with an updated skull bottle, and a revamped spirit inside.

Here’s how Aurora is different, in a nutshell, starting with the inventive showpiece of a bottle:

Distilled in Newfoundland, Canada, Crystal Head AURORA comes in a beautifully crafted bottle, which is an accurate rendering of the human skull. With an iridescent finish, the bottle was designed in celebration of the most vivid aerial phenomenon in the world – ‘the Northern Lights.’ To create the aesthetic of the lights’ mysterious visual properties, the skull shaped bottle is first placed into a sealed chamber and electrically charged. Two metals in powder form are activated seven times and released in the pressurized chamber. The powder is drawn to the electrically charged bottle – completely coating it. Then heated at high temperature, the powder melts, creating a uniquely iridescent metallized finish in which no two bottles are alike.

Inside, the spirit has also seen some changes.

AURORA is additive-free and made with high quality English wheat grown in the hills of North Yorkshire, and with pristine water from St. John’s, Newfoundland. It is five times distilled in a traditional column still prior to filtration. The vodka is filtered a total of seven times, the first three filtrations using activated charcoal – lasting six hours to remove impurities, next it is filtered three times over 10,000 Herkimer diamonds before finally going through a micro filtration prior to being bottled. Because AURORA was crafted with English Wheat, its flavor offers a drier, bolder, and spicier vodka than the Crystal Head original, made from peaches and cream corn.

Some how I missed that the original Crystal Head was made out of peaches and cream corn, but anyway, let’s taste Aurora and see how it acquits itself.

It’s good vodka, much like its forebear. The nose is clean but lightly medicinal, with hints of savory herbs, pencil lead, and a bit of rubbery band-aid character that emerges as the earlier notes fade. The palate shows an initial marshmallow sweetness, and a hint of rose petal florals, before settling into a somewhat astringent — almost bitter at times — groove. But this too fades away, leaving behind notes of rubber, some licorice, and dusky spices, almost coming across as Eastern spices at times. The finish is mostly clean, but does see a little of that band-aid note lingering.

All told, it’s a perfectly credible vodka — albeit a very expensive one — but what’s inside doesn’t nearly measure up to the wildly impressive bottle itself.

80 proof.

B+ / $60 / crystalheadvodka.com

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