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When Dominic DeSano's life and business partner, Laura DiJulius, invited him to visit Bahia, Brazil, they both fell in love with the region’s honey.
While DeSano first started crafting mead in his basement before the trip to Brazil, afterwards he started using the Brazilian honey. Ultimately DeSano decided to take his mead a step further by distilling it, creating Domeloz, which was released in 2017.
Domeloz is a smooth (not sweet) honey spirit made with 100 percent pure honey. While mead typically ends after fermentation, Domeloz goes through an additional distillation process.
The spirit is made in Madison at Yahara Bay Distillery, where DeSano worked with Lars Forde, Yahara's master distiller, to perfect the product.
"Yahara Bay has steered us in the right direction," says DeSano. "They saw a great product and our willingness to move forward."
To make a bottle of Domeloz it takes about two pounds of honey, DeSano says."There are about four million flowers to every two pounds of honey," he says.
DiJulius, who previously lived in Brazil, had acquaintances with Flor Nativa, Bahia's local honey cooperative. DeSano says Domeloz currently gets the majority of its honey from Brazil — though Wisconsin honey is added to almost every batch for additional flavor.
"I went [to Bahia] and realized that the honey in that region was very special because it is kind of protected," says DeSano. "It's in a national park region and not a whole lot of industry is allowed there."
Due to the honey, the spirit results in a wide variety of floral flavors like tropical fruits of Brazil and dandelions or plum blossoms of Wisconsin.
Eventually, DeSano and DiJulius would like all of the honey to be local. The couple plans to purchase 10 hives this spring, which will be different than landing strip beehives to insure a better quality of life for the honeybees.
"The more people that drink Domeloz or a honey spirit, the more bees and honey are seen as necessities," says DeSano.
DeSano and DiJulius hope to ultimately involve the community in their efforts to garner local honey, which might mean reaching out to homeowners interested in keeping bees on their property. Right now, the couple continuously works to bring awareness to the current threats facing the species.
"Not everyone knows that bees are at risk and in trouble," says DiJulius. She credits pesticides, the varroa mite and hive beetles to be among the biggest dangers to honeybees. "By supporting bees, we are supporting diversity and by supporting diversity, we are supporting a more natural and sustainable environment."
Domeloz has two varieties, the Original Honey Spirit and the Oak Rested Honey Spirit. It can be found in more than 100 restaurants, bars or stores around the Madison area.
While the company is expanding out of the Madison region, DeSano says its core will remain in the Midwest.
"This [business] is going to come from the heartland where the honey flows," says DeSano.