At Le Comptoir Inari, we usually talk about Japanese sake, because it is our specialty. Recently, at the end of 2020, you saw a new bottle arrive in the range: it is the Chikusen Umeshu from the Tajime Shuzo brewery, which I consider to be the best Umeshu currently imported into France. This is why it is exclusive to Le Comptoir Inari!
First, what is the Ume?
To begin with, let's talk about the fruit of ume. This fruit which is a citrus fruit , is to be considered as the Japanese plum . It is a citrus fruit rich in flavor, having the taste of plum, apricot and prune. Its acidity and characteristic slightly salty taste make it a very particular fruit, and it is often referred to here as "Japanese apricot".
So what is the Umeshu?
Remember, the real name of Japanese sake is "NihonShu": "Nihon" for Japan and " Shu " for Alcohol . The term Umeshu is quite similar as a result: "ume" for the Japanese fruit which can be considered as plum , and "Shu "For" Alcohol ". Simply !
Based on this principle, there are in Japan two types of Umeshu , this alcohol made from Japanese plum:
- The first which is often the best known is ume liqueur . Also called Umeshu, it is an alcohol made with shochu , shochu being the real traditional spirit made by the Japanese, from the sweet potato or rice distillery . For the record, Japanese sake brewers manufacture sake in winter. They then devote the summer either to its sale or to the manufacture of shochu. umeshu made from shochu is what one finds most in France, served in Japanese restaurants in a cocktail or whiskey glass, with ice cubes or even mixed with plain water. Some also cut it with sparkling water, making alcoholic soda, or adding a few drops to Japanese green tea. This drink very appreciated by the French is an alcohol easy to consume , which presents flavors of the fruit of the ume and a certain freshness. Also, the alcohol level is slightly lower than Japanese sake.
- The second, less famous but no longer present, is Japanese sake macerated with ume . It is in this category that belongs our Chikusen Umeshu , originally from the Hyogo region of Japan, the difference is significant: Japanese sake is an alcohol made from the fermentation of rice. The result is a drink with a different texture in the mouth . On the other hand, Umeshu made from Japanese sake have the particularity of having a much more present fruity taste . The taste of alcohol is therefore less and this type of umeshu appeals more to those looking for a sweeter taste. Often we can consume them at different temperatures ranging from a cold drink to one heated in a water bath. So I find a much more interesting taste potential and a range of possibilities that are more fun and exciting. Our Chikusen Umeshu, for example, will offer you a real explosion of flavors by mixing the leaky ume, with notes of spices, nuts or even soy.
Choose the Umeshu that suits you
Finally, the 2 types of umeshu are quite interesting and pleasant drinks to taste , even if I find a more important interest for macerated umeshu < / strong> with Japanese sake. Indeed, the taste interest seems to me much greater, and therefore the range of choices too. When a plum liqueur is served as an aperitif , umeshu with sake, it can be served at different temperatures and accompany different dishes . We often talk about dishes like chocolates, pies or even desserts. But a bottle of umeshu can just as easily accompany a good foie gras or sweet and savory dishes. This plum alcohol is therefore ideal to accompany a good homemade recipe, an elaborate meal, or something lighter.
The question we are entitled to ask: why the 2 alcohol s have the same name ? It's simple the brewers themselves call them by the same name. I think it's a question of cultural difference between France and Japan. Indeed, if we in France we call Nihonshu: Japanese sake; In Japan, it is the other way around. We just don't have the same knowledge , nor the same way of expressing ourselves .
The question we are entitled to ask Now, you will know how to differentiate these 2 types of Umeshu in France! So why not give it a try?