Eau de vie
Tree-ripe Oishi Wase from Yamanashi
At the beginning of July in Kita, Yamanashi, We went to the harvest of Mr. Mizuchi’s sumomo plum orchard at the base of the fruit line on the north slope of the Kofu basin.
Mr. Oyamada from Domaine Oyamada introduced us to Mr. Mizuchi who engenders a feeling of complete trust due to his witty remarks that contrast with his serious work ethic.
The sumomo plum trees grown on the gentle slope blown by the breeze 500 meters above sea level are about 40 years old and are of the cultivar Oishi Wase (large pit, ripens early). The fruit’s large size is a characteristic of this cultivar similar to that of Soldum plums, but on the other hand, it becomes very soft when fully ripened, making it unsuitable for transport, so they are apparently shipped more often before they are fully ripe.
We drove up in a van this time so that we could get them to allow us to harvest fully ripe plums that were not picked in time for shipment.
Blue tarps are usually spread out around the trees and the branches are shaken to drop the fruits, but due to them being very soft and also taking into consideration that they would be transported later on for a few hours, this made it a little risky. So we got on step ladders and picked each of them off by hand, but both the trees and fruits are so large that this made the containers fill up quickly.
We added a container bought at the last minute from a nearby Komeri (hardware store). In half a day, the three of us were able to harvest 300 kg of plums.
The seductive scent wafting throughout the packed mitosaya’s vehicle made me feel extremely happy. We brought them back right away and processed them into mash that day. Without adding in any yeast, it will ferment from natural yeast over four weeks, and then it will be distilled.
Meanwhile, I had forgotten about the rice spirits infused with mitosaya’s plum blossoms picked in the spring. After this is also distilled, everything will be blended together.
I feel so happy that I could experience that pure and rich seductive scent wafting inside that van that summer evening.
Ingredients: Oishi Wase (from Yamanashi Prefecture), plum blossoms, rice spirits
Alcohol volume: 44%
Bottle label drawing: Shinpei Kusanagi