5 Best Umeshu Brands in Japan: A Guide to Premium Plum Wines

5 Best Umeshu Brands in Japan: A Guide to Premium Plum Wines

19 de April, 2024Rasmiya Assadi

We tasted some of the best Umeshu brands in Japan. Check it out! 

Unveiling the world of Umeshu, Japan's exquisite plum wine! This guide delves into the top brands, helping you navigate the shelves and discover premium bottles that capture the essence of the perfect plum. 

Get ready to embark on a journey of rich flavor and cultural delight.

Key Takeaways

  • Umeshu is a traditional plum liqueur from Japan, with a deep, rich flavor and alcoholic content.
  • The popularity of Umeshu is growing, thanks in part to its presence on social media.
  • Choosing a reputable Umeshu brand can enhance the culinary experience, offering both flavor and traditional health benefits.

Which is the Best Umeshu Brand in Japan?

Among the numerous brands crafting Umeshu, Choya stands out. It balances tradition with purity, boasting a blend of ume plums, cane sugar, and shochu. 

Their umeshu is appreciated for its refined sweetness accompanied by a mild acidity, creating a pleasant drink that enhances digestion and delivers antioxidants. 

Apt for various concoctions, from simple umeshu on the rocks to intricate cocktails, it is an embodiment of Japanese craft in a bottle—both a delight at home and a hit for social gatherings.

  • Alcohol Base: Shochu or White Liquor
  • Main Ingredients: Ume Plums, Sugar
  • Tastes: Sweet and Sour
  • Serving Suggestions: On the Rocks, Oyuwari, Cocktails
  • Nutrition: Antioxidants, Minerals (Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium)

In my experience, Choya's matured selections, with their sweet aroma and natural ingredients, offer the pinnacle of umeshu excellence.

Top 5 Japanese Plum Wines Worth Sampling

Gekkeikan Umeshu

Within the realm of Japanese plum wines, known as umeshu, Gekkeikan stands out with its distinct offerings.



Here's what I find notable about Gekkeikan's plum wine:

  • Kanjuku Umeshu Genshu: This particular umeshu utilizes fully ripe Nanko plums from Wakayama Prefecture. Each bottle holds a robust 19% alcohol volume, which is quite potent compared to other umeshu on the market. You can experience the depth of flavor in Gekkeikan's bold umeshu.

Flavor Profile:

  • Rich and intense with a balance of sweet and tart notes.

Perfect for:

  • Those who prefer a stronger, full-bodied taste in their liqueur.

Pairing Suggestions:

  • Serve chilled for a refreshing experience,
  • Mix into cocktails for a unique twist,
  • Enjoy as an accompaniment to desserts.

As someone who appreciates the traditions intertwining with modern palates, I appreciate Gekkeikan's commitment to quality and innovation in their umeshu production.

Suntory Plum Wine

Suntory is acknowledged for its extensive expertise in beverage production, particularly in the realm of whisky.

This knowledge has successfully transitioned into their creation of umeshu, a type of Japanese plum wine. Here are key points about Suntory Umeshu:

  • Distillery Origin: Suntory's plum wine is crafted at the esteemed Yamazaki distillery, enhancing its quality.
  • Whisky Influence: Utilizing whisky barrels for aging, the umeshu imparts a distinctive depth and character.
  • Brand History: The company, dating back to 1923, leverages its longstanding tradition in crafting this unique beverage.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

  • Deep, rich notes often attributed to whisky maturation processes.
  • The profile may possess subtle nuances that can intrigue whisky aficionados.
  • A harmonious balance, likely benefitting from Suntory's blending expertise.

Consumption Tips:

  • Often enjoyed on its own, either neat or on the rocks.
  • Can be paired with desserts or as a dessert wine.


  • In Japan, Suntory Umeshu is readily available in various liquor shops.
  • Internationally, it’s exported and can be found in specialty stores or ordered online.

Emphasizing the use of whisky barrels, Suntory's version stands out among other umeshu brands, providing a unique tasting experience.

It is a testament to the company's innovative approach to blending traditional umeshu preparation methods with their renowned whisky-making techniques.

For fans of Japanese plum wine, Suntory's offer is a must-try, seamlessly marrying the world of aged spirits with the sweet, tart profile of plum wine.


Umeshu, a traditional Japanese plum liqueur, is a product I find both intriguing and enjoyable.

Among the various brands available, Choya Umeshu stands out due to its rich history and quality.

The company embarked on its journey in the world of wine-making back in 1914, notably introducing its signature plum wine in the mid-20th century.

Here’s what makes Choya Umeshu noteworthy:

  • Established Quality: Choya's dedication to creating the finest umeshu means they use high-quality Japanese ume plums.
  • Variety of Choices: They offer a range of umeshu, from the classic to the more modern interpretations.
  • Public Acclaim: Being a revered name in the market, they're known for their delicious and authentic plum wines.

At Choya Umeshu, customers can expect not only a sip of a beverage but a taste of a rich tradition that’s been perfected over many years. I'm particularly impressed by their commitment to using a substantial amount of ume plums, ensuring a deep and satisfying flavor profile. If you're looking to explore the world of umeshu, Choya is a brand that I confidently recommend.

Manzairaku Umeshu

In the realm of traditional Japanese plum wines, Manzairaku Kaga Umeshu stands out for its delicate balance of sweetness and tartness. Crafted with meticulous care, the underripe Japanese ume plums are handpicked to maintain the fruit's innate freshness. Here's what makes Manzairaku Kaga Umeshu distinctive:

  • Origin: The Kaga region, known for its rich tradition in brewing.
  • Flavor Profile: A harmonious blend with a full-bodied sweetness.
  • Production: Ume plums are soaked for several months, allowing the flavors to meld beautifully with the distilled alcohol.

The process behind Manzairaku Umeshu emphasizes a commitment to quality. The plums undergo a careful selection and transportation to the brewery, or 'Kura,' ensuring that only the best ingredients are used. Once at the Kura, the plums are macerated for an extended period, resulting in an umeshu that's both sweet and fragrant, with just the right hint of fruitiness that makes it a delightful beverage to savor.

For those looking to experience the essence of Japanese craftsmanship in their liqueur, Manzairaku Kaga Umeshu is a prime choice. It embodies the traditional methods of umeshu production while delivering a drink that complements a wide range of occasions, from casual gatherings to more formal events.

The commitment of Manzairaku to traditional techniques and quality ingredients places it among the top recommendations for umeshu aficionados exploring the best of what Japan has to offer.

Fu-ki Umeshu

Fu-ki Umeshu has established itself as one of Japan's notable plum wine choices, revered for both its taste and its tradition. It's produced by the Godo Shusei Company, which is a veteran in the industry with a legacy stretching back to the early 20th century.

  • Establishment Year: 1924
  • Flavor Profile: The taste of Fu-ki Umeshu is characterized by a deep richness and hints of nobility. The umami-packed plum flavors create a pleasantly sweet and complex profile.
  • Culinary Pairing: It pairs exceptionally well as a dessert wine, complementing an array of after-meal courses so well.

Below are some noteworthy attributes:

  • Cultural Significance: The recipe for this plum wine is a closely guarded secret reflective of hundreds of years of Japanese tradition.
  • Alcohol Content: Typical for Umeshu, which can vary
  • Serving Recommendations: Often served chilled, on the rocks, or as part of a cocktail blend.

Fu-ki Umeshu is an excellent representation of classic Japanese Umeshu, and it's found its place in the heart of Umeshu enthusiasts around the world. My recommended approach to truly appreciate its depth is to savor it slowly, allowing the rich and dark flavors of the Ume fruit to unfold on the palate. For more detailed insights into the brand, I've found information on websites like Japan Venge.

Commonly Asked Questions About Top Umeshu Brands

Noteworthy Umeshu Options for Enthusiasts

When exploring umeshu, several brands consistently earn praise from aficionados. Choya is renowned for its smooth taste, using fruit from Mie Prefecture, and comes in various presentations. Additionally, Takara Koshu Plum, offering a unique twist with hints of almond and cherry, is recognized as a big player in the market with a history dating back to the Edo Period.

Essential Umeshu Experience in Tokyo

If you're in Tokyo, I recommend not missing out on the Suntory Umeshu. This brand, from a company established in 1923, is known for its rich history and is produced in whisky casks, providing a distinctive flavor profile that umeshu lovers should experience at least once.

Comparing Umeshu Giants: Choya vs. Suntory

To understand how Choya Umeshu and Suntory Umeshu stand up against each other, it's essential to consider both their quality and taste. Choya is often highlighted for its silky, fruity notes, while Suntory's version is noted for a more aged, whiskey-inflected character. Both are high-quality options, but flavor preference will be subjective.

Traits of High-Caliber Umeshu

Premium umeshu varieties differ in a few key aspects. The quality of the base spirit and the plums used, the use of traditional production methods, and the aging process all contribute to the depth of flavor and overall richness. These umeshu options are typically smoother and have a well-balanced sweetness.

Ideal Umeshu Pairing with Authentic Japanese Food

For an umeshu that enhances the flavors of Japanese dishes, I suggest finding one with a balance of sweetness and acidity, such as Choya's classic offerings. These subtle notes can complement a range of foods from sushi to tempura without overpowering the meal.

Advice for Choosing an Umeshu Gift

When picking an umeshu for a gift, focus on presentation and reputation. A brand like Choya or Suntory offers beautifully packaged products that are also known for their high standards. Look for umeshu stored in aesthetic bottles and consider options that provide a unique taste experience, such as aged or infusions with additional flavors.

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