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Distillery to begin operations in Cape Coral

By Staff | Mar 31, 2012

There is a wicked tale of the wicked dolphin where – as legend has it – the dolphin leads a pirate’s life like the great buccaneers of olde.

He craved marauding, cavorting and drinking the finest rum he could capture.

Named in that penned legend’s honor, Wicked Dolphin Artesian Rum will be the signature product of the new Cape Sprits Inc., a new distillery that will begin manufacturing the rum here in Cape Coral.

It is Southwest Florida’s first spirit distillery, officials said.

Wicked Dolphin Artesian Rum will be offered as silver, amber and aged rum.

And it will be made with all Florida ingredients.

Down the line, Cape Sprits also will offer products made with rum, including chocolates, barbecue sauce, rum sauce and rum cakes, and future plans include offering other sprits such as whiskey and vodka.

The owner and president of the company is JoAnn Curtain Elardo. Elardo has a background that includes running an international sporting goods manufacturer, distributor and retail store group. She and her husband retired to Cape Coral in 2005.

How did she start her latest venture?

“One night we had some really bad rum, and at that time, there was a lot of bad PR about sugar,” she said.

She had also been thinking about her new home in Cape Coral, and the lack of manufacturing in the area. She also is a fan of buying Florida while living in the state. All those ideas came together.

“I thought sugar, rum, all the ingredients are here in Florida, and rum is tropical. Florida should have its own rum.”

Of the all-Florida ingredients, that includes molasses, sugar, water, yeast and rum to be made in aged oak barrels.

The first run will be in mid-May, then manufacturing will begin and the first bottles will be distilled in early summer.

“Plan on bottles being on store shelves by October,” she said.

It won’t be a large operation manpower-wise at first.

“We now have four people and we should be up to 10 by the end of the year,” she said.

The business is in part a family affair. The distiller will be her nephew Dan Termini, who is now under the tutelage of Eric Watson, a master distiller from West Virginia, who is consulting and working with Termini.

“Watson has 30 years experience from Edinburgh, Scotland to the Midwest,”Termini said.

He has just moved from New York to the Cape to be part of the business.

“I really love it,” he said of the field. “My aunt has been pitching the idea to me for about a year and a half. I enjoy this, and am looking forward to learning something new about the business every day.”

Right now, they are still working on partnerships with different distributors. “We want to make sure we get the right distribution for our product,” said partner Chris Spiro. “Lots of people are approaching us, interested in what we have to offer.”

Chris Spiro is also CEO and creative director of Spiro & Associates Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations. He is handling the branding and marketing for the business.

Steve Martin of the Spiro agency is also a partner, responsible for the more visual aspects for marketing.

“The recipe is a smooth, flavorful rum,” said Spiro. “The product has a smooth finish to it, a smooth aftertaste. In the liquor world, it is known as a nice finish.”

The distillery is at 131 S.W. 3rd Place.

The website is WickedDolphin.com.

The distillery features a huge copper still.

“It’s a good old one from Louisville, Kentucky,” Elardo said.

Of note, the Cape Spirits distillery will not be open to the public for tours and tastings due to state of Florida regulations.

Wicked Dolphin will be sold in a unique bottle the company designed on its own.

“I also designed a Cape Coral logo for the bottom, that also has little skull and crossbones,” said Elardo.

“And on a final note,” said Elardo, “Be wicked!”