It’s been a while since I reviewed the “The Choya Single Year” here on the blog, an Umeshu which is part of the premium segment within the product range of Choya. And with the Choya Umeshu Gold Edition I also wrote about an ultra-premium Umeshu which even comes with floating gold-flakes inside the bottle. Today it’s about another representative of the Japanese traditional liqueur genre that is about to conquer the bar world. (provided test product)*
“The Choya Aged 3 Years” follows its smaller brother “The Choya Single Year” in terms of age statements which is a not necessarily widespread tradition when it comes to Umeshu. And here, too, we’re dealing only with a mix of sugar cane shōchū, sugar and the Japanese Nanko Ume fruit (which is actually an apricot and no plum) that make this Umeshu a pure Honkaku Umeshu. For more detailed background information about Umeshu, however, I would like to refer to an earlier article. (And if you want to learn more about Shōchū, you will find interesting facts here.)
The Choya Aged 3 Years shows again by the article “The” that there’s quite a lot of pride about the product which found its way into the marketing. For the production process, Umeshus are allowed to mature for 3 years in aging tanks for and then the “three best batches” are blended (what happens with the other batches, we unfortunately do not know). Although I’m really more than skeptical about awarded medals when it comes to spirits, it should be noted that this particular Umeshu won a gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2016 and thus became the first internationally awarded Umeshu. So if a liqueur is praised prematurely in such a way, it makes me curious about the tasting.
Aroma: The nose is characterized by vinous fruit tones, which still have a lot of hints of plum aromas, but it is also accompanied by lighter citrus tones. There are also hints of apricots, as well as a beautiful, rich honey and a heavy sweetness of dried fruits against a background of fine oriental spices. In fact, this Umeshu reminds a bit of a Spanish brandy in the nose, which I really like.
Taste: On the palate, parallel to the heavy and oily sweetness, complex characteristics of dark fruit notes, rum preserved fruits, dried fruits and a slightly balancing acidity unfold. Honey, candied lemon peel, associations of cloves and some pimento complete a very nice taste experience. That’s an Umeshu to really discover a lot – which also makes it an ideal sipping liqueur.
Finish: surprisingly dry, with long-lasting and oily sweetness that gradually turns into light fruits
Considering the flavor profile of this umeshu, it may not be the most obvious decision to opt for a rather bitter aperitif cocktail. But the oily, multi-faceted sweetness of The Choya Aged 3 Years with its subtle spice and acid notes, certainly has what it takes to really enhance such a drink. Without further ado, I have created a cocktail in which next to Campari and Tokiwa Mugi Shōchū also some Jinzu Gin and Tonic Bitters are used. It is basically a Negroni with a Japanese twist. I’ve named the drink “Shōjō Negroni”. Shōjō (猩々) is a spirit of nature in Japanese mythology with a penchant for alcohol and in addition he also has long, reddish hair – which fits in with the color of the cocktail. Therefore I only have to say: Kanpai!
Recipe “Shōjō Negroni”:
2 cl The Choya Aged 3 Years
2 cl Campari
1.5 cl Tokiwa Mugi Shōchū
1 cl Jinzu Gin
1 Dash The Bitter Truth Tonic Bitters
Preparation: Add all ingredients in a tumbler filled with fresh ice cubes, stir briefly, done.
Glass: Tumbler (or alternatively a Japanese ceramic bowl)
Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online.
*The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.