We had tastings of various The CHOYA labels while Kondo regaled us with a background on CHOYA and Umeshu. The CHOYA Single Year would sit well with novices to this fruit liqueur; it’s easy to like with its wild honey, candied orange and almond notes that reminded us of a Muscat. Meanwhile, The CHOYA Aged 3 Years is more assertive, harbouring a mellow rum-like mouthfeel. We also sampled the limited-edition The CHOYA From The Barrel that is aged for three years in fibreglass tanks without any additives before being transferred to French oak casks for further ageing of two years, giving it a complex, smoky flavour that leaves a mild aftertaste of wine.
There are three classic ways to drink Umeshu: neat in a chilled glass, on the rocks, or mixed with warm water for wintry nights. CHOYA’s website also suggests innovative cocktail recipes in an endeavour to widen the appeal of Umeshu to the new generation of tipplers.
Shigehiro Kondo has ambitious plans to conquer the world with its “The CHOYA” branding to make it synonymous with Umeshu. Look out sake; someone’s hot on your heels.