Drink Umeshu

The different types of bases used to make Umeshu and their characteristics

If you relish fruit wines, Umeshu – the Japanese plum wine is one you should definitely try. One of the best things about umeshu is that you can make it easily at home with some very simple ingredients.

Umeshu is commonly made with three main ingredients – ume plums, rock sugar, and shochu white liquor with about 35% alcohol content (v/v). If you don’t get any of these ingredients, there are always alternatives you can choose. For instance, if you don’t find ume plums, you can use other plums. If you don’t get rock sugar, you can use regular granulated sugar, brown sugar, or honey instead. And if you can’t get shochu white liquor, there are a lot of different spirits you can substitute with to make umeshu.

The liquor used to make umeshu acts as a base for the wine. These plums release their juices and flavor into the liquor. So, if the liquor has any flavor of its own, it would reflect in the final product as well. This is why white liquor is highly preferred to make umeshu as it would retain the flavor of the plums in the wine. The chosen alcohol should have about 35% alcohol or more.

Some of the spirits you could consider when looking to make umeshu are:


Shochu is the most preferred white liquor to make umeshu in Japan. It has the right alcohol content and is tasteless & odorless. It does not contribute any extra flavor of its own to umeshu.


Brandy-based umeshu would exhibit rapid aging, so be careful. Umeshu usually takes about 6 months to rest, but with brandy, it will be ready in about 3 months. Brandy-based umeshu would be sweet, deep, and mellow. Brandy comes with its sweetness, so the quantity of sugar would have to be adjusted accordingly.


When using sake, like brandy, the quantity of sugar would need to be adjusted to maintain the taste of umeshu. The sweetness of rice in sake pairs well with that of the plums. Usually, sake has less than 20% alcohol so you would need to find one with more alcohol to make umeshu though.

Vodka or Gin

Vodka and gin are both distilled white spirits with the right alcohol content to make umeshu. They are tasteless and odorless and would make great bases for making umeshu. It usually does not call for the added sugar in umeshu to be reduced, but it is suggested to taste the vodka before using it and decide accordingly.

This way you can use different liquor bases to make umeshu and create something that reflects your taste and preferences. 

About Umeshu Lovers

Made with the finest ume plums from Japan, Umeshu is an apéritif with a sweet-sour flavour.  

Known commonly as “Japanese Plum Wine”, Umeshu is among the most well-known alcoholic beverages in Japan and is slowly gaining popularity worldwide.  

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