Crystal Head Vodka got its start as a wacky Dan Aykroyd-designed vodka that was packaged in a see-through skull. Since those early days some 15 years ago, the brand has surprised everyone by continuing to succeed through the sheer power of its novelty. Different skulls with different vodka distillates have followed, including everything from Pride-themed bottles to hand-numbered, collectable editions.
Today we’re looking at a newer pair of offerings, all built around the familiar bottle design.
Both are 80 proof.
Crystal Head Onyx Vodka – Packaged in black glass, Onyx is particularly unique because it is created from Blue Weber agave harvested from a single estate in Mexico. It’s not tequila. It’s vodka. Made from agave. And that’s a new one for me. The nose doesn’t evoke agave, though it comes across as a bit earthy, with notes of graphite, a hint of anise, and a bit of creosote. The longer it lingers in glass, the more its earthiness develops — though again, nothing ever comes across as green or even peppery. The palate at least hints at the base distillate where a touch of pepper comes into focus, followed by a light squeeze of lemon. An emerging sweetness later on is actually where tequila is evoked the most clearly, with a grassy quality meandering toward lemongrass becoming prominent in the end. All of the above meld into a finish that has a modicum of sweetness melding with citrus peel and a hint of almond. In a world of anonymous vodkas distinguished only by the length of time they let the column still run, this one’s at least got a backstory that’s just as interesting as its bottle. I can’t complain about that. A- / $72 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE] [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM RESERVEBAR]
Crystal Head Vodka Bone Bottle – A bit of a cheat here. This is the standard corn-based Crystal Head (linked above), the same bottle that’s been painted an opaque, tan-like color that at least approximates the hue of bone. I think the other Crystal Head bottles, like Aurora, are more evocative, but if you want something more classic in appearance, this limited edition version (dropping for Halloween 2023) might fit better with your decor. The nose has a neutral but industrial quality to it, a bit dusty and earthy — not unlike the nose of the Onyx expression. 15 years ago I remarked on a vanilla quality, and while it’s evident again, it’s certainly muted this time around, with any of those original notes of sweetness now tempered. Has the recipe changed or just my taste buds? I’m not sure, but this expression of Crystal Head is about as mild as it gets. Earthy nose, light palate, clean finish. If you need something about as neutral as it gets to dump into your Halloween punch, I think this you’ve found it. B+ / $46