What Liquor for Umeshu? Cannot Use Wine or Sake!


Here are some questions about alcohol in the making of plum wine. What alcohol do you recommend? Can wine be used? Can I make non-alcoholic umeshu?


Does Any Liquar Suit?

When making homemade umeshu in Japan, we usually use Japanese white liquor. This white liquor is different from what we call white liquor in English. It is a Shochu with less than 36% alcohol by volume. You can buy this at a cheap price. And you can make umeshu with simple flavor.

Of course, you can make umeshu with other alcohols as well. For example, brandy, whiskey, rum or gin. For Japanese spirits, Shochu and Awamori are also delicious. And if you use a particularly high concentration of spiritus, for example, you can make it quickly.

Concentration MUST be at least 20%

However, when making umeshu in Japan, it is important to pay attention to the concentration of the original liquor. By Japanese law, the alcohol content must be at least 20%. This 20% standard seems to be based on the possibility of fermentation and re-production of alcohol during the soaking process.

When making your own umeshu, please check the laws of your respective country.

Avoid Sake and Wine

There are two main types of alcohol: brewed and distilled. Brewed alcohol includes beer, wine and Japanese sake. They are fermented to produce alcohol, which is then filtered or otherwise processed before being sold.

Distilled liquor, on the other hand, includes whiskey and shochu. These are liquors that have undergone a process called distillation, in which the brewed alcohol is evaporated once to increase its concentration.

Generally, the concentration of brewed alcohol is less than 20%. This means that using Japanese sake or wine to soak umeshu is illegal in Japan.

Distilled spirits, on the other hand, have a higher alcohol concentration than brewed liquors and will almost never have less than 20%. You can use any alcohol for making umeshu, but be sure to check the alcohol content before pickling.

Can I Make Non-Alcoholic Umeshu?

When we consider the mechanism of making non-alcoholic umeshu, we realize that it is important for the liquor to permeate into the plums. However, it is not only liquor that permeates. For example, water molecules are also small and will penetrate well.

However, let’s think about this for a moment. Isn’t non-alcoholic umeshu the same as ume syrup?

When making ume syrup, you do not need to use rock sugar. You can easily make ume syrup and fruit syrups with white sugar and frozen fruit.


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