Preparations for plum liqueur begin in Wakayama

A sake brewery in Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan, has begun preparations for producing umeshu, or plum liqueur, using locally grown fruit.

The prefecture is known as the top ume producer in Japan. A group mainly containing its growers has designated June 6 as Ume Day. Legend has it that Emperor Gonara offered the plums to a shrine on the same day about 470 years ago, hoping for a bumper crop.

On Saturday, more than eight tons of fresh Nankoume picked in the morning were carried by truck to a brewing company in the city of Kainan.

Workers washed the plums and put them in an alcohol and sugar solution in a tank about four meters high and two meters in diameter.

The company says the plums will be removed in six to nine months, and the umeshu will be left to mature for another nine months or so.

Some of it will go without the additional maturing process for shipment in December as umeshu nouveau.