Japan’s Umeshu wine available in Maharashtra; Will soon expand to Delhi, Goa: Yosuke Shibata, EIJ Consulting

‘‘Umeshu Lovers’ is a community that together relishes and celebrates their love for one of the most popular alcoholic beverages from Japan – Umeshu. ‘

Japan’s famous Umeshu wine is now available in India!  Umeshu is a fruit liqueur which comprises 35% white liquor and around 20% alcohol. It is among Japan’s most well-known and loved beverages and is slowly building a loyal community of fans across the world. Not only is Umeshu the perfect drink to round-off your evening meals and leisurely afternoons, it also has a host of health-benefits, being rich in citric acid and antioxidants. Umeshu is now coming to India and EIJ Consulting Pvt. Ltd. will market Umeshu in India in partnership with importer Sonarys Brands. FinancialExpress.com caught up with Yosuke Shibata, CEO, EIJ Consulting Pvt. Ltd. to know more about Umeshu wines and their future plans in India. Excerpts: 

Tell us about ‘Umeshu’ and how different it is from other grape wines which are consumed on a large scale in the world?

Umeshu is among the most well-known alcoholic beverages in Japan made from the finest raw, locally-sourced ‘ume’ plums. It is a traditional plum wine made in Japanese homes but is now gaining popularity across the world as an aperitif with a distinct sweet-sour flavour. Umeshu is made of Japanese plum, sugar and Shochu (Japanese hard liquor made of sugarcane). Each flavour of Umeshu has a unique taste that can be savoured in different ways which is why it is loved not only in Japan but across the world. Over the years, it has become a favourite among wine connoisseurs and garnered massive praise at international competitions and festivals alike. 

Like grape wine, it has a sweet-sour flavour but its strong citrusy aroma and variety of flavours makes it stand apart from your usual red wines. Also, Umeshu isn’t just another regular aperitif that only pleases your taste buds. It comes packed with citric acid and antioxidants that help enhance the health of your skin, hair, and nails!

What is the specialty of this traditional Japanese plum wine? What are the best ways to consume Umeshu?

Umeshu is a simple traditional plum wine made in Japanese households that is toasted and shared among the family before any celebratory meal. In the modern world, it can be enjoyed straight, on the rocks, or used as a base to make scrumptious fruity cocktails and even desserts. It is ideal as a sun-downer and helps you unwind and relax after a long day. Great for light drinkers and first-timers. Depending upon the flavour, Umeshu can be enjoyed in various ways. It is typically served with carbonated water but is so diverse that it can also be enjoyed in the form of a frozen adult snack with ice cream.

Can you tell us about the different flavours of ‘Umeshu’? 

In Japan, there are several varieties of the Umeshu plum in addition to strawberries, blue berries, pineapples, oranges, etc. 

At present, we have introduced three flavours in India:

Kishu’s Yuzu plum wine: This is made using yuzu juice, a citrus fruit that is a cross between a mandarin and lime. It’s popular among wine connoisseurs for its distinct Japanese fruity flavour.

Nakano Umeshu: This wine is made using 100% local Nanko-ume fruits grown in Wakayama. The rich, fruity and fragrant plum wine is loved in Japan and across the world for its sweet-sour flavour.

Kishu Umeshu Beninanko: This delectable plum wine which has a peach-like fragrance is made from the very rare and precious ‘Beni Nanko’ plums that grow only in the sun. This particular blend uses 1.5 times the number of red Nanko plums compared to other regular plum wines. Beninanko has also won the first Grand Prix at Japan’s largest Umeshu competition.

In addition to these, we are also planning to bring more flavours to India soon.

How will be the availability structure of Umeshu in India?

As of now, Umeshu will be available in Maharashtra but we are primarily focussing on the city of Mumbai. We will be expanding our presence to other parts of India in FY 2022-23 like Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Goa.

What is ‘Umeshu Lovers’?

‘Umeshu Lovers’ is a community that together relishes and celebrates their love for one of the most popular alcoholic beverages from Japan – Umeshu. This community connects on platforms like japanlovers.in/ and instagram.com/umeshu.lovers/ to share their knowledge of Umeshu. This community will also host on-ground tasting events in India.

What are the steps undertaken to promote Umeshu in India?

As Umeshu has a unique sweet-sour taste with a lesser alcohol content than other liquors, we are mostly targeting millennial women. In the first phase of our India plans, we are focussing more on making the wine available in fine dining restaurants where we will also host first-tasting activities to allow people to experience ‘Umeshu’ and understand its flavours. We are also reaching out to a larger customer base through influencers. Already, we have organised Umeshu tasting at some of Mumbai’s popular restaurants including The Fatty Bao, Olive Bar & Kitchen, KOKO, Hakksan and Nara Thai Colaba to name a few. 

Do you plan to set-up a Vineyard and start production for Umeshu in India?

At present, we don’t have any plans to set up a vineyard for Umeshu production in India. However, we may consider it in the future.

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