Artisans: Joanne Elardo and Dan Termini, Wicked Dolphin Artisan Rum
The aunt-and-nephew team share their part in the craft movement.
Joanne Elardo and Dan Termini
Owner and distiller, Wicked Dolphin Artisan Rum
Ages: 50 and 28
Years in the trade: Five and three
In Southwest Florida since: 2005 and 2010
All business stops as Dan Termini, the distiller at Wicked Dolphin Artisan Rum in Cape Coral, is handed a small snifter of alcohol. It’s clear like vodka and was swiped directly from the stream flowing out of the facility’s shiny copper still. He lets his nose linger above the glass as he searches for just the right fragrance.
“Nah, not yet,” he says and hands the glass back to his assistant.
When making rum, patience is a virtue. That’s something that Wicked Dolphin distillery owner Joanne Elardo has truly learned in the five years it’s taken her to get the business up and running. But together with distiller Termini, who is actually Elardo’s nephew, the small craft distillery is starting to garner some big attention. In fact, last year—in the company’s first year of production—the brand won the gold medal at the annual Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.
“It totally surprised us. We heard them call Cape Spirits and it didn’t even register that it was us,” Elardo says. “Someone had to say, ‘Hey, isn’t that you guys?’”
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The A-Ha Moment
Elardo: “I’m an entrepreneur. It’s what I do. I’d sold my business in Central Europe and I had just been reading about the Florida sugar cane industry. One day I was sitting out drinking a rum cocktail—with not particularly good rum—and I thought, ‘Why aren’t we all drinking Florida rum?’”
Termini: “We use 100 percent Florida sugar from the Clewiston area that’s processed in a Palm Beach County refinery. It’s table-grade sugar. We use City of Cape Coral water and we’re experimenting with including other Florida products in our flavored rums.”
Termini: “Often we’ll have guys come through on our tours who will say, ‘Oh, I’m not a rum guy,’ or ‘Oh, I only drink this one type of rum.’ Well, try this and we’ll change you, and so far that’s been the case.”
Struggling for Recognition
Termini: “The hardest thing has been getting people here to embrace the craft movement. In the Northeast and the West, the craft movement is huge; people really get it. Here, it’s really just starting.”
Elardo: “In my travels, I’ve noticed that the world is starting to look more and more the same. It’s nice to have something different, when you come to a region to have something that’s special to that region. When you come to Florida, there should be a Florida rum.”
Termini: “All of our rum is aged in once-used bourbon barrels. The bourbon absorbs the harsh tannins and the oaky taste from the wood. We use the barrels once and then we pass them on to breweries. They use them and then from there they either become furniture or planters.”