• 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Plum Wine (Umeshu) in 2022 (Choya, Suntory, and More) 1
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Plum Wine (Umeshu) in 2022 (Choya, Suntory, and More) 2
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Plum Wine (Umeshu) in 2022 (Choya, Suntory, and More) 3
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Plum Wine (Umeshu) in 2022 (Choya, Suntory, and More) 4
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Plum Wine (Umeshu) in 2022 (Choya, Suntory, and More) 5

10 Best Tried and True Japanese Plum Wine (Umeshu) in 2022 (Choya, Suntory, and More)

Japanese plum wine, or umeshu, is a popular Japanese liqueur that is popular. Its sweet, smooth flavors make it easy to drink even for those who aren't fans of alcohol. However, with so many options to choose from, it can be pretty daunting to find the best Japanese plum wine for you. We researched and tested different types of Japanese plum wine and put together a list of what we thought were the 10 best available online.


How did we test the umeshu? We drank them all! In order to figure out which was the best umeshu, we had our Japanese editorial staff conduct taste tests for the following:


  • Deliciousness

We then had them rate each product on a scale of 1 to 5.


Our top pick was The Choya Aged 3 Years from arguably the most famous Japanese plum wine brand, Choya. However, there are plenty of other Japanese plum wines that you might also enjoy, so keep on reading. And remember, if you're not sure which Japanese plum wine is best for you, be sure to check out our buying guide.

Featured in this article

mybest US Editors
  • Last updated: 05-20-2022
Table of Contents

What is Plum Wine (Umeshu), and How is it Made?

What is Plum Wine (Umeshu), and How is it Made?

Japanese plum wine, also known as umeshu, is an alcoholic beverage made from steeping Japanese ume plums into various types of liquor with sugar. While korui-shochu (a Japanese spirit that has been distilled several times to remove any flavor or color, also described as white liquor) is most commonly used as a base for plum wine, it can also be made from Japanese sake or brandy. This means that plum wine actually isn't really a wine at all!


While plum wine is known for its sweet and tart flavors and aromas, many people also drink Japanese plum wine for its many benefits, which are mostly attributed to its high citric acid content from the plums, which help alleviate exhaustion, boost appetite, and improve digestion.

The Base Alcohols

As mentioned earlier, Japanese umeshu is made from a variety of bases. We break down the most common bases below.

White Liquor (Korui-Shochu) Based Plum Wines are the Most Common

White Liquor (Korui-Shochu) Based Plum Wines are the Most Common

As mentioned earlier, plum wine often is made using shochu, a Japanese spirit. For umeshu, the shochu is often made from molasses, which is then distilled multiple times to remove any flavor or color and is known as "white liquor" or simply labeled as "brewed alcohol" in Japan. Similar to vodka, white liquor has no flavor by itself, allowing it to highlight the flavor of the plums.


Plum wine made from a white liquor base is relatively easy to drink, since it doesn't have a strong alcoholic taste, so it's a great entry point for those who are new to plum wine or those who are looking for a very standard Japanese plum wine.

Japanese Sake Bases are Fruity and Use Less Sugar

Japanese Sake Bases are Fruity and Use Less Sugar

In recent years, there has been an increase in plum wine made from Japanese sake. These types of plum wines have a deep fruity flavor, where the Japanese sake combines with the acidity of the plums.


Moreover, in order to balance the natural sweetness that Japanese sake has, plum wines made from a Japanese sake base tend to be made with less sugar than other bases, so while these won't have a strong sweet flavor to them, they will be more gentle in the flavor department and are a healthier alternative to other types. We recommend choosing a Japanese sake-based plum wine if you want to enjoy this drink while dieting!

Brandy Bases Offer a Rich Flavor and Sweetness

Brandy Bases Offer a Rich Flavor and Sweetness

Umeshu made from a brandy base have a unique, sweet, elegant aroma, and we think they're best for sipping on after a meal on the rocks. Since the plums have been steeped in brandy, you can also enjoy its mellow and deep flavor.


One of the biggest draws of brandy-based plum wines is that you can enjoy them in a variety of ways! Since plum wines made from brandy have a richer taste than those made from white liquor or spirits, even if you mix with soda or hot water, the flavors will still stand out. If you're looking for a plum wine that you can slowly sip on and explore its taste, we recommend trying a brandy-based plum wine.

Compare the 10 Best Japanese Plum Wine

Image
1
Choya Umeshu The Choya Aged 3 Years 1

Choya Umeshu

2
Suntory Yamazaki Distillery Reserve Casked Umeshu 1

Suntory

3
Yamaguchi Brewery Tokusen Umeshu Uguisu-Tomari Ootoro 1

Yamaguchi Brewery

4
Heiwa Brewery Tsuruume Kanjuku 1

Heiwa Brewery

5
Meiri Shurui Honkaku Umeshu Baika Hyakunen Umeshu 1

Meiri Shurui

6
Kobori Brewery Manzairaku Kaga Umeshu 1

Kobori Brewery

7
Kawachi Wine Hotei Fuku-Ume 1

Kawachi Wine

8
Suntory Sumiwataru Umeshu 1

Suntory

9
Choya Umeshu Sarari Umeshu 1

Choya Umeshu

10
Shiratama Brewery Satsuma Umeshu 1

Shiratama Brewery

Name

The Choya Aged 3 Years

Yamazaki Distillery Reserve Casked Umeshu

Tokusen Umeshu Uguisu-Tomari Ootoro

Tsuruume Kanjuku

Honkaku Umeshu Baika Hyakunen Umeshu

Manzairaku Kaga Umeshu

Hotei Fuku-Ume

Sumiwataru Umeshu

Sarari Umeshu

Satsuma Umeshu

Features

Our Top Choice - Intoxicatingly Rich Aroma and Flavor With Sophistication

Best Standout Plum Flavors With Fantastic Aromas

Elegant Plum Wine With an Intoxicating Mouthfeel

Strong Sweetness and Gentle Plum Flavor

A Rich and Mellow Umeshu

Round Mouthfeel With Delicate and Refined Aromas

A Satisfyingly Thick and Heavy, High-Quality Umeshu

A Refreshing, Easy-to-Drink Umeshu

Best Boxed Plum Wine

An Exquisite Balance Between Richness and Natural Sweetness

Price$23.06$12.47$15.51$15.33$12.74$13.79$21.36$7.97$22.58
Japaneseチョーヤ梅酒 The Choya Aged 3 Years山崎蒸溜所貯蔵 焙煎樽仕込梅酒特選梅酒うぐいすとまり 鶯とろ鶴梅 完熟明利酒類 本格梅酒 梅香 百年梅酒萬歳楽 加賀梅酒河内ワイン 布袋福梅サントリーホールディングス 澄みわたる梅酒チョーヤ梅酒 さらりとした梅酒白玉醸造 さつまの梅酒
Amount720ml660ml720ml720ml720ml720ml720 ml500ml1000ml1800ml
Alcohol typeWhite liquor-ShochuJapanese sake, brewed alcoholBrandy, brewed alcoholBrewed alcoholBrewed alcohol, brandy-Ethanol, brandyWhite liquor
Calories (per 100ml on the rocks)196kcal-------131kcal-
Alcohol content15%14%12%10%14%14%12.40%10%10%14%
Plum typeKishu Nanko plum-Ooshukubai plumKishu Nanko plumShirokaga plumBenisashi plum-Japanese plumsKishu plum-
Deliciousness3.93.83.83.73.73.73.73.73.73.6
Overall score3.943.873.803.733.733.733.733.733.733.66
Link

10 Best Japanese Plum Wines

We researched, selected, and tested and compared in-house all of the following Japanese plum wines. Each one offered different and unique flavors and aromas. Here's our top 10 picks! Note that some prices are converted from the original Japanese ones for your viewing convenience.

1

Choya UmeshuThe Choya Aged 3 Years

$23.06

Japaneseチョーヤ梅酒 The Choya Aged 3 Years
Amount720ml
Alcohol typeWhite liquor
Calories (per 100ml on the rocks)196kcal
Alcohol content15%
Plum typeKishu Nanko plum
Deliciousness3.9
Overall score3.94
2

SuntoryYamazaki Distillery Reserve Casked Umeshu

$12.47

Japanese山崎蒸溜所貯蔵 焙煎樽仕込梅酒
Amount660ml
Alcohol type-
Calories (per 100ml on the rocks)-
Alcohol content14%
Plum type-
Deliciousness3.8
Overall score3.87
3

Yamaguchi BreweryTokusen Umeshu Uguisu-Tomari Ootoro

$15.51

Japanese特選梅酒うぐいすとまり 鶯とろ
Amount720ml
Alcohol typeShochu
Calories (per 100ml on the rocks)-
Alcohol content12%
Plum typeOoshukubai plum
Deliciousness3.8
Overall score3.80
4
Japanese鶴梅 完熟
Amount720ml
Alcohol typeJapanese sake, brewed alcohol
Calories (per 100ml on the rocks)-
Alcohol content10%
Plum typeKishu Nanko plum
Deliciousness3.7
Overall score3.73
5

Meiri ShuruiHonkaku Umeshu Baika Hyakunen Umeshu

$12.74

Japanese明利酒類 本格梅酒 梅香 百年梅酒
Amount720ml
Alcohol typeBrandy, brewed alcohol
Calories (per 100ml on the rocks)-
Alcohol content14%
Plum typeShirokaga plum
Deliciousness3.7
Overall score3.73
6

Kobori BreweryManzairaku Kaga Umeshu

$13.79

Japanese萬歳楽 加賀梅酒
Amount720ml
Alcohol typeBrewed alcohol
Calories (per 100ml on the rocks)-
Alcohol content14%
Plum typeBenisashi plum
Deliciousness3.7
Overall score3.73
7

Kawachi WineHotei Fuku-Ume

$21.36

Japanese河内ワイン 布袋福梅
Amount720 ml
Alcohol typeBrewed alcohol, brandy
Calories (per 100ml on the rocks)-
Alcohol content12.40%
Plum type-
Deliciousness3.7
Overall score3.73
8

SuntorySumiwataru Umeshu

Japaneseサントリーホールディングス 澄みわたる梅酒
Amount500ml
Alcohol type-
Calories (per 100ml on the rocks)-
Alcohol content10%
Plum typeJapanese plums
Deliciousness3.7
Overall score3.73
9

Choya UmeshuSarari Umeshu

$7.97

Japaneseチョーヤ梅酒 さらりとした梅酒
Amount1000ml
Alcohol typeEthanol, brandy
Calories (per 100ml on the rocks)131kcal
Alcohol content10%
Plum typeKishu plum
Deliciousness3.7
Overall score3.73
10

Shiratama BrewerySatsuma Umeshu

$22.58

Japanese白玉醸造 さつまの梅酒
Amount1800ml
Alcohol typeWhite liquor
Calories (per 100ml on the rocks)-
Alcohol content14%
Plum type-
Deliciousness3.6
Overall score3.66

How We Tested the Plum Wine

We tested each umeshu to figure out which was the best.

Test ①: Deliciousness

Test ①: Deliciousness

We tested by having six of our Japanese staff at mybest personally drink 43 different types of Japanese plum wine, both in bottles and in boxes, and we wrote down our honest opinions and scored how delicious each plum wine was on a scale of 1 to 5.


The plum wines were selected based on popular items found online, as well as staple products found in supermarkets. For this article, we narrowed down the 10 best Japanese plum wines that we sampled ourselves, selected for either their standout flavors and aromas or for being unique and original, while still tasting delicious.

Highlights: It's All About Balancing the Base

Highlights: It's All About Balancing the Base

While conducting our taste test, we found that the umeshu that ranked higher managed to balance flavors between the base alcohol and the plums well.


On the other hand, products that ranked lower were a bit lacking in plum flavor. In short, what we found was important was that the flavor of the plums was just as important as well-aged, rich base alcohol. It's all about balance!

How to Choose Japanese Plum Wine - Buying Guide

When choosing a Japanese plum wine, there are a couple of things you should consider, such as the base alcohol and the type of packaging. These two things can greatly alter your experience, with key differences!

Choose Between Bottled or Boxed

Choose Between Bottled or Boxed

Japanese plum wine is usually available in either a bottle or in a box. What separates the two types is that boxed plum wine is usually more affordable and easier to dispose of, so they might be more suitable for people who want to enjoy plum wine on a frequent basis. 


On the other hand, bottled plum wine is more suited for long-term storage, and its aroma won't degrade as quickly. While boxed plum wine can be stored for six to ten months, bottles plum wine can be stored for one to three years. For those of you who want to enjoy plum wine every now and then, or want to try different varieties, we recommend bottled plum wine!

Select by Plum Type

The star of the show for Japanese plum wine is, of course, the plums! While Kishu Nanko plums are most famous, there are several types of plum that are used to make plum wine. The following are some of the most common plums and their characteristics.


  • Kishu Nanko plum: Small fruit with thin skin and soft flesh
  • Ooshukubai plum: Thick skin and a strong scent, best for making Japanese plum wine
  • Shirokaga plum: Large fruit that produces a light and elegant flavor in plum wine
  • Kojiro plum: Dense fruit, suited for making plum wine or syrup
  • Ryukyo plum: Small but meaty, with a small pit, often used to make crunchy pickled plums
  • Nanaore plum: Yellow, soft and fleshy fruit with a small pit, high in sugar with strong sweet scent

What to do With the Leftover Plums?

Some Japanese plum wines actually have plums inside the bottle or box! However, some people aren't quite sure what to do with them, and also feel wasteful just disposing of them. We've put together a few ideas of how to use Japanese plums after you've finished your plum wine. 

Dice Them Up and Store in a Jar

Dice Them Up and Store in a Jar

Since the leftover plums have been steeping in alcohol and sugar, they're rich in flavor. Try dicing them up and storing them in a jar to add extra flavor to your fried rice, pasta, and other dishes!


Additionally, not only can you use them in cooking, but also other drinks and cocktails as well. We recommend dicing the plums rougher if you want to retain more of the flesh of the plums.

Use Them to Make Jelly for Refreshing Desserts

Use Them to Make Jelly for Refreshing Desserts

If you want a simple recipe that doesn't require any knife skills, we recommend making jelly!


All you need to make four servings of jelly is 200cc of water, nine grams of gelatin, and four plums. If you have some leftover plum wine and want to make an alcoholic jelly, add the same amount of plum wine as your water!


Instructions:

  1. Soften your gelatin with water, and while doing so, heat your water and plum wine in a saucepan
  2. After the water and plum wine has been heated, remove from the heat and add the softened gelatin
  3. Strain the liquid into a separate container and mix while cooling the container in cold water
  4. Add the liquid and plums into a mold and chill in the refrigerator

If you prefer your jelly to be sweet, try adding 40 to 80 grams of sugar for a refreshingly sweet and tangy dessert!

Looking for Ways to Elevate Your Nightcaps?

Looking for Ways to Elevate Your Nightcaps?

Looking for ways to bring your Japanese plum wine experience to the next level, or seeking different Japanese alcoholic drinks? Check out the links below for more helpful tips on choosing the best products to make your nightcaps even more enjoyable!

Author: Kyoka Koiwa/Translation: Mitsuki Nagasawa/Photos: Yasuhiro Shimoka


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    We all get that mid-afternoon slump. It can be tempting to reach for an energy drink that helps you through the rest of the day. Unfortunately, most energy drinks are full of sugar and processed ingredients that can quickly leave you feeling worse than before.Luckily, there's an increasing number of healthier energy drinks with less sugar and less junk that still provide the energy boost you crave. We've done the research, combed through reviews written by real people, and curated a list of the 10 best healthy energy drinks on the market. Our favorite is Guru's Organic Energy Drink. Read on for more great choices, as well as a buying guide reviewed by a registered dietitian that will help you pick the best drink for your needs!
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  • 6 Best Low-Sodium Soy Sauces in 2022 (Registered Dietitian-Reviewed)
    6 Best Low-Sodium Soy Sauces in 2022 (Registered Dietitian-Reviewed)
    Love the umami taste of soy sauce with your dishes but need to reduce salt intake? Low-sodium soy sauces can help you stay within your daily limits while still enjoying your favorite dishes. As our first supplemental section reveals, sometimes the availability of low-sodium soy sauces can be limited. However, you can always reduce the sodium content of a regular soy sauce by adding a proportionate amount of water. Our list shows some 6 of the best types and brands of low-sodium soy sauces you can expect to find. Our number one pick, Yamasa Less Salt soy sauce is one of the Japanese varieties on the market. Keep reading on to our buying guide, reviewed by a registered dietitian, to learn more about additional types of low-sodium soy sauces and how to select one.  
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