Choya Umeshu

Choya Umeshu

By Velier

The name Choya comes from the combination of two terms: a unique Japanese butterfly known as Gifu Cho, found in the Komagatani area, where the company is based, and a series of Stone Age artefacts also found in the area, including arrowheads, called 'ya' in Japanese.



Choya began in 1914 with the cultivation of grapes to produce wine and brandy. Its founder, Sumitaro Kondo, immediately sought to enhance the value of agricultural products, considering working together with the growers as an integral part of his DNA. Since 1959, Sumitaro has developed his idea of sharing Japan's unique tradition with the rest of the world, starting from the great potential of ume, a local type of plum.

In 1962, the Choya Yoshu Jozo company began to offer its products, but many shops were reluctant to buy them, because at that time umeshu liquor was produced at home, by families; it was a hard time for Choya, which continued to face difficulties for about ten years. The situation gradually changed from 1975 and through the 1980s, when the population began to concentrate more in urban areas and changed their lifestyle; it was here that the demand for umeshu as a product began to increase, and consequently sales began to take off. From 1985 Choya began to export seriously to Europe, and five years later established a branch in Germany and entered the international market in its own right, with steady growth continuing throughout the 1990s. With the expansion of the umeshu market, however, came products made with artificial additives such as acidifiers instead of the real umeshu fruit: to protect the growers and the umeshu culture, the category 'Honkaku Umeshu' (authentic umeshu) was established in 2015, so that it would be visible to consumers. In 2016, the Honkaku Umeshu The Choya series was born, representing the culmination of Choya's product development.

Production method

Choya only uses ume fruits grown in Japan, especially the prized Nanko species from the Kishu region: this is a large ume with thick flesh and high acid content. Harvesting takes place in early summer. The freshly harvested ume are immediately brought to the farm, where they are washed and macerated in one of 450 ageing vats, separated according to the type of ume, its region and maturity. The ume liqueur is left to age for one year, through a process called Still Ageing. Afterwards, the Master Blenders analyse the various qualities of each batch of umeshu in order to create the various Choya products following the blending techniques developed over a century of history. For products containing umeshu, each individual fruit is hand-checked, washed and placed in the bottles.

Country: Japan