Dan Aykroyd vodka ban lifted in Ontario

Canadian actor Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head vodka has finally been allowed to go on sale in his home province of Ontario, ending a ban that sparked a public outcry.

The Newfoundland-made spirit was launched in Ontario this week, having been banned by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) last May, which declared the skull-shaped packaging in violation of the liquor board’s social responsibility mandate.

“The image of the human skull is the thing that’s really problematic for us,” LCBO spokesman Chris Layton said at the time of the ban. “It’s an image that’s commonly associated with death, which is especially problematic at a time when there are concerns around binge drinking by younger adults.”

The Ghostbusters and Blues Brothers star celebrated the overturning of the ban in a Toronto store last week, signing 393 skull bottles in three hours.

Aykroyd believes the public were instrumental in getting the ban lifted through an online campaign. “The consumer really pulled it through for us,” he told Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.

But the actor also played a part in the decision: “I wrote a letter to the LCBO saying, ‘Look, I love the LCBO. We do business with wine and Patrón, and when you take the vodka, it’s going to be great for us all’.”

As part of the agreement, Aykroyd was asked to redesign the packaging. “We made an adjustment to the box so the skull wouldn’t be so overt and in your face,” he admitted.

Made with Newfoundland water and Canadian wheat and corn, Crystal Skull launched in the US in 2009 at $50 a bottle.

Having enjoyed success in the US, the UK, Germany, China, and the Caribbean, Aykroyd is keen to expand into other markets.

“We’re looking to launch in Australia, Mexico and South America soon, and we’ve had a lot of interest from Russia,” he said.

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