Japanese sake is renowned across the globe. While there are different types of traditional sake made in certain regions of Japan such as Shochu, Awamori, and Amazake, one that doesn’t fall behind them in popularity is Umeshu. It’s casually enjoyed today, but Umeshu actually has a long history. The exact day it was invented is unknown, however, it’s said that the upper class enjoyed it all the way back to 300 years ago during the Edo period.
Umeshu is often made by steeping plums in white liqueur. It’s pretty popular for Japanese people to make their own every summer because only drinks that contain high alcohol contents can be made at home, so why not Umeshu? Naturally, brewers followed and also decided to make Umeshu this way.
As mentioned previously, Umeshu was enjoyed during the Edo period. They didn’t have access to white liqueur so wouldn’t you say that they probably used sake instead? (Note: White liqueur was also invented in Japan in 1910!)
Actually, they used Koshu (古酒). Koshu is sake which has been aged. By allowing the sake to mature, the texture, flavor, and scent become richer. It almost tastes like Shaoxing Wine since they’re made from the same ingredient: Rice.
Sugar could not be easily obtained during the Edo period, so Nihonshu (Japanese sake) was an expensive drink that only the wealthy could enjoy. Common folk didn’t so often get a chance to taste of something sweet, but times have changed and luckily, Umeshu can now be obtained at a more affordable price. So why not give it a try?
Here are some Umeshu made with Nihonshu that we recommend:
Hakkaisan Brewery – Umeshu
The famous Hakkaisan Brewery uses its own genshu
(undiluted sake) to make their Umeshu. It’s not sweet, by keeping sugar levels low brings out the plum aroma in the sake. When I first tried it, I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted like a rich sea of sake engulfed in the refreshing scent of ume. Just one cup is all it’ll take to understand what I mean!
Umenoyado – Aragoshi Umeshu
Compared to Hakkaisan, this Umeshu is sweet. You can enjoy the plum pulp texture with this purely satisfying sake.
Convinced yet? There are plenty of Umeshu to choose from thanks to its popularity. We’re sure you’ll become a fan once you try it!