Yamaguchi-based Asahi Shuzo is preparing a global launch of "Dassai Umeshu" for March 1, 2019. In development for the past three years, it's a honkaku umeshu, meaning it contains only liquor, sugar, and plums -- thus no added flavoring, coloring, or souring agents. The report comes via the Shokuhin Sangyo Shimbunsha, a food and beverage industry daily.
In some ways, Dassai is like the Dom Perignon of the sake world. The company sells only Daiginjo-style sakes, so the brand name is synonymous with luxury sakes both within Japan and abroad. It's a favorite gift of Japanese PM Abe, who is from Yamaguchi, presented to foreign leaders when they visit Japan.
The liquor used in the new umeshu is of course Dassai's world-famous Junmai Daiginjo 23%, with its rice being milled down to 23% of its original inner white core.
This is Asahi Shuzo's first venture into the world of umeshu. They have teamed up with the Umeshu Kenkyu-kai to make this happen, bringing in "Kounan-ume" Japanese apricots from nearby Wakayama prefecture. While ordinarily you would use green apricots for umeshu, they instead chose to go with ripe apricots, giving the umeshu a pinkish hue.
This new release will be extremely limited in quantity. Despite the fact that it's a global launch--with bottles being available in Dassai stores in Japan, France, China, and Taiwan--only 800 bottles will be available for this first run. The price here in Japan is 12,960 yen per bottle.