How To Make Plum Sake Umeshu (Japanese Plum Liqueur) 梅酒

Plum Sake Umeshu

Most people call it “plum wine,” but it’s technically a liqueur of plums

Timer for preparing your homemade Plum Sake Umeshu

For a brief window in the early summer, Japanese and Korean markets sell these tiny green fruits. Prunus mume, or in Japanese, 梅:うめ, is actually an apricot, but always referred to as a plum. Originating in China, ume are now widespread throughout East Asia and are the main ingredient in the salty pickled plums called umeboshi and in plum wine.

This sweet, fruity liquor is super easy to make, requires few ingredients, and when it’s ready to drink, you can eat the plums, too! It’s terrific on its own, on the rocks, or mixed with a little sake or shochu.

Rock sugar is used instead of normal sugar because it dissolves more slowly than table sugar, and it flavors the alcohol more proportionally.


What You Need

Japanese green ume plums – call Mitsuwa at 1-877-MITSUWA (877-648-7892) to order. Only available for a short window in early summer!
Rock sugar
alcohols depending on your preferences use of Shochu (焼酎) or Sake

A kitchen scale
A large, wide mouth clean non-metallic jar with a tight lid. The jar should be large enough that the plums, sugar, and Shochu should only fill 3/4 of the jar.


1. Wash the plums and remove the stems. The stems are small and deep, so use a toothpick or your pinky fingernail to dig them out.

2. Measure out a number of plums that would fill half of the jar you’re planning to use. Weigh them. Set aside.

3. Weigh out the rock sugar in an amount that is half the weight of the plums. For example, if you have two pounds of plums, you need a pound of rock sugar.

4. Place a layer of plums in the jar, then a layer of rock sugar, then a layer of plums, then a layer of rock sugar. Continue until all the plums and sugar are used up. Optional: you can add layers of red shiso leaves if you like.

5. Pour the alcohol into the jars until there’s about an inch of alcohol over the top of the plums.

6. Put the lid on the jar securely and store the plums in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar occasionally to help the sugar mix with the alcohol. After 5 to 6 months, the umeshu is ready to drink. However, this plum sake liqueur mellows with age, so you may notice a different flavor after a year or two. Try making a few different batches of plum sake Umeshu, and drink one after 6 months, drink the other after a year, and drink the next after 2 years.


Enjoy you plum Sake Umeshu


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