Chiba brewery makes prize-winning umeshu with top-notch sake

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Plums are dried on a reed bale at a production facility of Yoshino-Shuzo Co. in Katsuura, Chiba Prefecture.

KATSUURA, Chiba — Production of umeshu plum liqueur is in full swing at the Yoshino-Shuzo sake brewery in Katsuura, Chiba Prefecture, which is taking advantage of its top-quality junmai daiginjo sake.

The company has procured large plums of the Shirakaga and Nanko varieties from a plum grove in Yokoshibahikari, Chiba Prefecture, where Sakata Castle once stood. With the stems removed one by one, the plums are washed with alcohol and running water. After being dried overnight on a reed bale, the plums are then placed in tanks along with the sake and rock sugar.

Umeshu is usually made with shochu distilled spirits, but the brewery, which was established in 1830, uses its junmai daiginjo and ginjo, two top categories of sake made from highly polished rice. Last year, the company’s umeshu made with junmai daiginjo won the gold prize at the Bordeaux Sake Challenge held in France, raising its profile internationally.

“The umeshu made with junmai daiginjo has an elegant sweetness and aroma, while the one with ginjo has a refreshing and clean taste,” said Hideki Kato, head of the company’s production department. “I hope people enjoy such a deep flavor.”

Production will be completed in September.