Umeshu is so much more than you think it is…
Umeshu is a traditional Japanese liqueur made from ume fruit steeped in alcohol (typically in shochu or sake) and sugar. It is sweet, fruity, and tangy and can be enjoyed in various ways; straight, on the rocks, or with soda. Umeshu has a long history; first referenced in an early culinary book that was published in 1697 called Honchoshokkan, it is still popular to this day. Since the Edo period, Umeshu has played an important role in the Japanese drinking and food culture. People enjoy umeshu as an aperitif or digestif at restaurants and people even make their own umeshu at home. In fact, many stores and supermarkets sell DIY umeshu kits around June during ume harvesting season. I remember my parents always used to make umeshu at home and drank it on a daily basis: unfortunately, the quality of their home-made umeshu was not something people would buy!
Umeshu has some health benefits as well! Umeshu contains 15 times more citric acid than lemons and includes many other essential minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium) and antioxidants. Because of this, it can help you to recover easier/faster from exhaustion and helps to relieve and prevent certain digestive issues.
With such a long history and many health benefits, there is no reason not to grab one of the many delicious varieties of Umeshu and enjoy with friends and family!
Kozaemon Junmai Umeshu:
This Umeshu uses a Junmai sake with more than 20% alcohol as its base. A rare ume varietal,
called Beni Nankobai, is ripened with the use of mirrors in the orchard and brings beautiful
acidity and sweetness. Simply delicious! Pair with foie gras, pate,
Niwa No Uguisu Tomari Umeshu:
Made from hand-selected plums which have been steeped in the brewery’s own kasutori
shochu (distilled sake lees) for 10 months. Beautifully silky on the palate with a long finish.
Perfectly balanced with bright acidity and a rich mouth-feel.
Niwa No Uguisu Otoro Umeshu:
Sweet and tangy ume plums add amazing texture and flavour to this award winning Umeshu,
which won “Best in Class” in 2011. Bright acidity and natural sweetness makes this an easy
accompaniment to savoury dishes as well as elegant desserts.
Sake lees are distilled to make Kasutori shochu (rice-lees shochu) and whole ume plums are
soaked in it for a minimum of a year. Pair with foie gras, chicken liver mousse, uni.