Above: the Hardy boutique in Tartane (all photos by CJ)
THE RHUM of Tartane is not known much beyond Tartane. Nor, for that matter, is Tartane.
This little seaside town on the Atlantic coast of Martinique has a tiny collection of waterfront bars and restaurants and a larger share of fishing boats floating just off the shore.
But the rhum is the pride of Tartane, the pride of the Hardy family that has been making it in some form or another for generations here.
The old distillery no longer functions, just a red rusted ruin, a monument to earlier cane. The rum is now made, according to the old recipe at the Rhum St James plant in Sainte Marie.
But the sugar still grows, and that sugar finds itself inside the G Hardy bottles, the ancient ones that look as if they were printed on parchment.
The rhum says Tartane in the biggest font, then Hardy; the Hardy distillery office still exists, today a small gift shop and rum shop still operated by a member of the Hardy family, the one that has put its name here since 1830.
The rhum vieux is good; it is simple, peppery, sweet when it needs to be. It tastes like an old bottle saved for you by a friend.
It is a rum you drink as much because of the bottle as the taste; because when you drink it you sustain the memory of an old family name and an older rhum plantation. And Tartane.