Dokan - Umeshu
Dokan - Umeshu
OTA SHUZO - SHIGA
It’s no surprise really that Ōta Shuzo who are making some seriously impressive Sake are also going to make a great umeshu! This Dōkan Umeshu was made in 2014 by infusing a 1 year old sake with ao-ume [green ume] and korizato [‘ice sugar’ | rock sugar] for about 6 months or so and then bottle aged until release, giving this umeshu a depth of flavour often not seen in other brands. Most of theume used are the Nankobai variety sourced from Wakayama Prefecture along with some Fukui ume from Fukui Prefecture. Both of these prefectures are famous for their ume varieties with Nankobai and Fukui Ume being the most sought after for making beautifully flavoured umeshu. The Ōta Umeshu is completely additive free with no additional colour, aromas, flavours or acids added, and relies purely on great ingredients and technique. Ōta are comparatively conservative with the sugar they add to their umeshu as they want to achieve a drink that has the deliciously tart Ume flavours balanced by moderate sweetness. The flavour is enhanced by beautiful sweet marzipan & stewed fruit aromas.
So what is Ume?
Ume is a fruit that comes from the ‘Prunus Mume’ tree which is cultivated for both its fruit and flowers. Prunus Mume has been given several confusing common names, but is most often referred to as a plum tree and the fruit from the trees are therefore known as plums and umeshu known as ‘plum wine’. The tree is actually a native of China which was then introduced into Japan and today there are more than 350 distinct varieties of ume known in Japan. Although it is true that ume trees are part of the ‘Rosaceae Prunus’ family of trees as are plum trees, the genus also includes trees such as cherry, peach, almond and apricot, and it is actually the apricot that it is most closely related to. Flavour-wise ume has a much higher acidity level than a plum, being about 4-5% compared to 1-2% in plums and is the reason for umeshu having such a complex, tangy flavour. So ume really are a fruit in their own right, so should just be known as ume rather than translated into plum.
The fruit of the ume tree is mature by early summer, around June or early July, and the fruit is often used when green and unripe. When the ume is ripe the skin turns a warm golden colour, sometimes with a red blush, and the flesh becomes yellow. Generally fresh ume fruit are not eaten, much like most varieties of quince, they are generally too hard, astringent and sour to eat raw, so the fruit is usually made into umeboshi literally ‘dried ume’ [the pickled fruit] or used for making umeshu.
INGREDIENTS: Sake infused with ume fruit and korizato sugar
SERVE: Chilled | on the rocks | with soda | in a cocktail
STORAGE: Store Umeshu in a cool dark place, trying to avoid direct sunlight.
HANDLING: Once opened the Ota 'Umeshu' will last well for at least 10 - 12 weeks, ideally in a refrigerator.