When thinking of alcohol in Japan, most automatically think Sake but plum wine is an important Japanese alcoholic beverage as well. And the two are often mixed up, mistaken for one another. So, in this post, we will explore plum wine’s history and how it is made.

History of plum wine


The history of plums in Japan is over 400 years. Brought over originally from China’s Yangtze River as an herbal medicine, now plums have become warmly appreciated by Japanese people.
Plums being transformed into Umeshu (plum wine) were first seen during the Edo time period. Written records of how to produce Umeshu were discovered as well. But, because during this time period sugar was precious, Umeshu was regarded as a luxury.
And then, in 1962, because the Liquor Tax Act was reformed, the home brewing culture began. Umeshu grew to be loved by many. And to share this love, in this post, we will explain a simple way to make Umeshu at home.

How to make Umeshu



We will explain how to make Umeshu using green plums. From the beginning to middle of June, the freshly harvested green plums are used. If Nanko-ume plums are used, a fruity flavor and aroma can be enjoyed. If you receive green plums, be aware they ripen in 2-3 days, so we recommend their early use.

The ingredients are green plum, sugar candy, white liquor, jar, bamboo pick (stick)

First, boil the jar with hot water to disinfect and wipe the jar dry. Next, wash the green plums in water. A word of caution, wash by hand and very gently. After wiping the green plums, remove the stem using the bamboo pick. After the plums have been prepared, we will place the plums and sugar candy in the jar. First, put the plum in the jar and then place the sugar candy and continue repeating this process. And then pour white liquor into the jar. Store the jar in a cool, dark place and wait for 6 months to 1 year. The longer the plums are soaked, the more flavorful the Umeshu will be.

For Sake lovers residing outside of Japan

the plums have been prepared, we will place the plums and sugar candy in the jar. First, put the plum in the jar and then place the sugar candy and continue repeating this process. And then pour white liquor into the jar. Store the jar in a cool, dark place and wait for 6 months to 1 year. The longer the plums are soaked, the more flavorful the Umeshu will be.

For Sake lovers residing outside of Japan
For Sake lovers residing out of Japan, we feel it may be difficult to obtain white liquor or sugar candy!! However, by using these substitutes, it is possible to still enjoy Umeshu.

Instead of white liquor, brandy, whiskey, wine can be substituted to soak the plums into. Honey can be substituted for sugar candy. However, in this case, the contents of the jar need to be mixed once a week. The reason is honey does not melt easily, so the once a week mix is needed.

We hope all of you will try and enjoy your own Umeshu.

Caution

In Japan, because Umeshu is a fruit wine, the Liquor Tax Act forbids it to be produced below an alcohol percentage of 20 degrees. Even if it is for home use, it is illegal to produce Umeshu below an alcohol percentage of 20 degrees. Also, if you do try to make Umeshu, please consult the law of your country as well!