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UMESHU

WHAT IS UMESHU

Umeshu is a traditional Japanese liqueur. Many Japanese households used to make Umeshu at home, a custom that continues today.  I remember my grandma used to make it when I was young, and kept a big glass pot under the kitchen sink. She used a white spirit (distilled spirit) and rock sugar as a base and infused it with fruits like ume and kumquat. When it matured and was ready to drink, a beautiful sweet aroma filled our room.

 

WHAT IS UMESHU MADE FROM?

Umeshu is made using the ume fruit which is an Asian fruit that is part of the rose family (although it looks like an apricot).  Some people call Umeshu a Plum wine, but actually, there is no association with Plum fruit.

In Japan, the ume flower season runs throughout February and March, and harvest time for ume fruit happens in June and July, which is early summer in Japan.  The majority of Umeshu use ‘Aoume’ which is unripened green ume. As it is not yet ripened, the Aoume has a good level of acidity.  When combined with sugar (during Umeshu making), Aoume gives the Umeshu a clean, fresh acidity. Alternatively, you can use ‘kanjuku ume’ which is ripened ume.  Ripened ume has soft flesh and natural sweetness, so your Umeshu with kanjuku ume gives a more fruity flavour and round fruit sweetness.  

Umeshu has a sweet almond smell and is often associated with marzipan. Its flavour is sweet, tangy and rich in texture.  

Ume Fruit Tree
Ume washing

HOW TO MAKE UMESHU

Making Umeshu is a very simple process. The harvested ume is first washed and then combined with base alcohol (such as a white spirit or Shochu, Japanese Sake or brandy) and sugar to extract the ume flavour. The process takes between 10 months to one year depending on the temperature and style of Umeshu you are after.  Once the liqueur is a nice violet colour, it should be ready.

The alcohol content in an Umeshu is usually between 8 and 15%. If you are interested in Umeshu, we recommend you taste Umeshu with different base alcohols such as white spirit, Sake, or brandy. Sake based Umeshu is elegant, with a soft mouthfeel, a Shochu base gives you more of the Ume fruit character as well as a gentle rice character, and a white spirit base shows clean and fresh fruitiness with a light mouthfeel. 

WHEN TO DRINK UMESHU

In Japan, Umeshu can be served before the meal to awaken your appetite and is also served to provide some time to settle in at a traditional Japanese restaurant before eating. You can also have it as a dessert drink either straight or with ice.  Alternatively, you can make your own Umeshu cocktail by adding crushed ice and gin or create an Umeshu Mojito with lime and mint. 

 

    Umeshu Cocktail
    UMESHU AND BLUE CHEESE

    UMESHU FOOD PAIRINGS

    You can pair Umeshu with food such as foie gras or duck, but our recommendation is to pair it with cheese.  One of our favourites – Kanjuku Umesu with blue cheese. Delicious.  

     

    UMESHU

    WHAT IS UMESHU

    Umeshu is a traditional Japanese liqueur. Many Japanese households used to make Umeshu at home, a custom that continues today.  I remember my grandma used to make it when I was young, and kept a big glass pot under the kitchen sink. She used a white spirit (distilled spirit) and rock sugar as a base and infused it with fruits like ume and kumquat. When it matured and was ready to drink, a beautiful sweet aroma filled our room.

     

    WHAT IS UMESHU MADE FROM?

    Umeshu is made using the ume fruit which is an Asian fruit that is part of the rose family (although it looks like an apricot).  Some people call Umeshu a Plum wine, but actually, there is no association with Plum fruit.

    In Japan, the ume flower season runs throughout February and March, and harvest time for ume fruit happens in June and July, which is early summer in Japan.  The majority of Umeshu use ‘Aoume’ which is unripened green ume. As it is not yet ripened, the Aoume has a good level of acidity.  When combined with sugar (during Umeshu making), Aoume gives the Umeshu a clean, fresh acidity. Alternatively, you can use ‘kanjuku ume’ which is ripened ume.  Ripened ume has soft flesh and natural sweetness, so your Umeshu with kanjuku ume gives a more fruity flavour and round fruit sweetness.

    Umeshu has a sweet almond smell and is often associated with marzipan. Its flavour is sweet, tangy and rich in texture.

    Ume Fruit Tree

    HOW TO MAKE UMESHU

    Making Umeshu is a very simple process. The harvested ume is first washed and then combined with base alcohol (such as a white spirit or Shochu, Japanese Sake or brandy) and sugar to extract the ume flavour. The process takes between 10 months to one year depending on the temperature and style of Umeshu you are after.  Once the liqueur is a nice violet colour, it should be ready.

    The alcohol content in an Umeshu is usually between 8 and 15%. If you are interested in Umeshu, we recommend you taste Umeshu with different base alcohols such as white spirit, Sake, or brandy. Sake based Umeshu is elegant, with a soft mouthfeel, a Shochu base gives you more of the Ume fruit character as well as a gentle rice character, and a white spirit base shows clean and fresh fruitiness with a light mouthfeel. 

    Ume washing

    WHEN TO DRINK UMESHU

    In Japan, Umeshu can be served before the meal to awaken your appetite and is also served to provide some time to settle in at a traditional Japanese restaurant before eating. You can also have it as a dessert drink either straight or with ice.  Alternatively, you can make your own Umeshu cocktail by adding crushed ice and gin or create an Umeshu Mojito with lime and mint. 

     

      Umeshu Cocktail

      UMESHU FOOD PAIRINGS

      You can pair Umeshu with food such as foie gras or duck, but our recommendation is to pair it with cheese.  One of our favourites – Kanjuku Umesu with blue cheese. Delicious.  

       

      UMESHU AND BLUE CHEESE

      UMESHU BRANDS

      FUKUJU
      HOURAISEN
      HOMBO SHUZO
      KUNIZAKARI
      YOSHINOGAWA
      X