Umeshu (梅酒）is a traditional Japanese form of liquor that is often times translated as “Japanese plum wine”. However, one taste of Umeshu will let you know that Umeshu has closer ties to hard liquor than it does to wine because of its potency. With that said, Umeshu is a very sweet drink that can be drank straight up or on the rocks by almost anyone, as well as mixed with other drinks to make tasty cocktails.
Umeshu is easy to find in the grocery store, and is offered in many different varieties as well as brands. But Umeshu isn’t just a drink to be bought, it is a drink that many people in Japan make in their own home. Not only is Umeshu legal to make at home, it is surprisingly easy to do. But, the time to make Umeshu is now, so if you want to make Umeshu you need to get to the stores and look for the Umeshu making stalls.
If you want to make Umeshu at home this is what you will need:
1 Umeshu Jar. These Jars usually come in 2 or 4 liter variants, and have red caps. The thing to remeber with the Umeshu Jar is its ability to be sealed. A good Umeshu Jar should have a double seal. Id you find the local Umeshu making area in your supermarket you should spot the 2liter and 4 liter jars quite easily.
2) Unripe Plums – 青梅 – ao ume: The reason that the time to make Umeshu is right now is simply because the Ume are prime for Umeshu only during a short period in the spring. A.K.A Right now. You can find these in almost any grocery store and the thing to check is their color, the perfect Ume for making Umeshu are usually bright green.
3) Rock sugar – 氷砂糖 – Koori zatou: technically any sugar can be used to make Umeshu, but using pure rock sugar is your best bet for quality Umeshu. It will also come in handy when you are measuring how much sugar you are using to make your Umeshu.
4) White Liquor – ホワイトリカー or Brandy: To make traditional Umeshu White Liquor is used, and is usually sold only for the making of Umeshu. White liquor is similar in taste to souchu, but usually a little bit harsher. Don’t worry, That is why we are using it to make Umeshu, cause the bitterness of the liquor will be smoothed by the sweetness of the sugar. If you want to make a nicer cleaner tasting Umeshu, you can also use Brandy.
5) Bamboo Skewers and Paper Towels
And that is it, pretty short ingredient list isn’t it? Once you have your ingredients making Umeshu is a snap. Luckily for us, directions on how to make Umeshu have been put up on Youtube! So why listen to me teach you how to make Umeshu when you can watch others do it.
So get to it, and impress your friends in Japan by showing your deep understand of Japanese culture, or impress your friends from home with your intricate knowledge of foreign drinks.
–Travis is a 4th year JET in Ishikawa Prefecture and an avid fan of Japanese spirits.