Picks to sip

by Yukari Pratt

Oushuku Nigori Umeshu from Tokushima

The first thing that will strike you about this brew is the pumpkin orange color. As you pour it into the glass the thick texture sticks to the sides of the glass. The meat of the apricots have been mashed and combined with nihonshu, shochu and honey to make this a thick, luxurious drink — an umeshu you could literally chew. Chilled and drank straight up, it is like an adult’s version of fruit juice.

Choya’s Kokuto Umeshu

Kokuto Umeshu from Choya is steeped with mineral-rich kokuto (black sugar) instead of the rock sugar. The resulting dark color is reminiscent of molasses, with aromatic notes of dark chocolate, leather and dried figs. In a blind tasting it may be confused with a Vin Santo from Italy, the dessert wine made from sun-dried grapes. Use this for a decadent caramel-like sauce over vanilla ice cream.

Manzairaku Kaga Umeshu from Ishikawa

From Ishikawa, Manzairaku’s Kaga Umeshu is one of the more popular umeshu on the market. It is aged for three years, giving it a nice, soft, round and developed flavor profile. It is shochu-based and relatively sweet, but in a class above the rest.

Kishu Akaiumeshu from Wakayama.

An interesting umeshu that will catch your eye, Kishu Akaiumeshu comes from Wakayama, which is famous for its ume. The bright red color in the Kishu Akaiumeshu comes from red shiso leaves. Light, refreshing, with aromas of fresh strawberries, it is best served on the rocks. Since it has a crisp finish, fans of Californian white Zinfandel will be keen on this drink.

Koshi no kagetora from Niigata

Umami-rich nihonshu is used for making this light, crisp umeshu. The natural acidity of the apricots brightens up the drink and makes it a good choice for accompanying a meal. If you are a sake fan, you will enjoy how the sake taste lingers on the palate.

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