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They are produced throughout Japan, and the most popular of them is umeshu, the plum liqueur. But many other fruits can be used in their preparation, such as yuzu, apricot, peaches, mikan, etc ... Japanese fruit liqueurs are not liqueurs in a traditional sense, because they contain, on average, only 12% alcohol.
Liqueurs are made by a maceration process of fresh fruits in neutral alcohol, shochu, or sake. Fruits are giving their flavors to the alcohol where they soak during three to six months. Then the mixture is filtered, or not (for liqueurs called "nigori"). The liquors are prepared by the addition of syrup, and sometimes fresh fruit or pulp.
As an aperitif
Thanks to their low sugar content, and relatively low alcohol compared to Western liquors (between 10 and 20% alc., compared to 24-35% for European liqueurs), Japanese liqueurs are very pleasant as an aperitif.
During the meal
In the "Kaiseki" Japanese great cuisine, one can easily pair a liquor with a carefully chosen dish. The same kind of mariage is possible in our Western cuisine; for example, a plum liqueur will work well together with foie gras; a yuzu liquor with grilled fish.
As a digestive
A light digestive! Because they contain on average only 12% alcohol. The best way to end up a meal with a light touch of acidity or a slight bitterness, depending on the liqueur one considers. One who considers conventional digestives too strong, will be pleased with japanese fruit liqueurs.
In the prepatation of cocktails
These liqueurs are very rich in fruit flavors and represents an excellent cocktail base. You will find some examples here below.
Here are some original cocktail recepies.