Becoming immersed in a different style of eating and drinking is an excellent way to gain an appreciation for another culture. I’ve been immersing myself in Japanese culture by sampling different kinds of sake and gradually becoming more obsessed with the industry. One of the most recent bottles I’ve tried is Akashi-Tai shiraume umeshu.
A complex dessert sake, the shiraume umeshu has shot straight to the top of my favourite drinks list. Aromatic, mouth-watering and full-bodied, it’s the type of nihonshu that can be broken out for special occasions.
Why did I choose the bottle?
The shiraume umeshu is a part of the sake masterclass course held at Manchester’s Peter Street Kitchen. What I found fascinating about the umeshu was how it differed from traditional Japanese plum wine.
Conventional plum liqueur is made by preserving Japanese ume plums in distilled spirits. Yet the Akashi-Tai brewery take a different approach by preserving the plums in ginjo grade sake made from Yamada Nishiki rice. The plums are removed after six months of steeping and then the sake is left to age for another two years. This has the benefit of removing the sharp alcoholic taste associated with other types of sake, like Akashi-Tai’s tokubetsu honjozo.
The shiraume umeshu has a fragrant, fruity aroma that lingers in the nose. A moreish plum taste builds on the tongue, getting steadily sweeter with each sip. It’s accompanied by rich undercurrents of marzipan, raisin and honey. The syrupy texture of the sake is heavenly and I would liken it to the festive qualities of a Christmas pudding. It’s definitely the kind of sake you want to be having at Christmas and pairing it with a dessert like chocolate mousse.
With its rich and sweet flavours, the Akashi-Tai shiraume umeshu has established itself as one of my favourite types of nihonshu. Buy a bottle for yourself and let me know what you think of it.
- ABV: 14%
- Grade: ginjo
- Rice: Yamada Nishiki