Japan’s plum varieties are coveted around the world. They are found in a variety of food products in Japanese culture, and are even distilled into liquors such as wine. Have you ever thought of having a plum-tasting candy? Nestlé in Japan did just that and has recently created new lines of Kit Kat chocolate to take advantage of Japan’s unique plum flavors. Nestle Discover the essence of Japan’s highest quality plum, and have a look at the new Ume Sake Kit Kat!
In 2016, Nestlé first introduced Sake Kit Kat – a white chocolate Kit Kat that came in a unique bottle-shaped packaging embodying the isshobin -traditional sake bottles. Then in 2017, the Masuizumi Japan Sake Kit Kat was created in collaboration with retired soccer star Hidetoshi Nakata. It featured the Masuizumi sake brand produced by Toyama-based brewery Masudashuzo. The success of this collaboration, which achieved 70% more sales than conventional Kit Kat products, led to the development of a new flavor in the Sake Kit Kat line.
Nestlé maintained their collaboration with Mr. Nakata, and also partnered with the Wakayama-based brewery Heiwa Shuzou (Japanese only) to develop the new Sake Kit Kat line. Heiwa Shuzou was founded in 1928, and today their two main products are the Japanese Sake “Nori” Line (日本酒「紀土」), which includes different types of sake like Junmai Ginjo and Junmai Daiginjo, and the Tsurume Plum Wine Series (鶴梅の梅酒シリーズ), which uses the seasonal fruit produce of Wakayama to offer limited flavors.
Wakayama Prefecture is Japan’s top producer of the Japanese plum, ume. There are many ume varieties available in the prefecture, but the Nanko ume is considered the most popular. This variety of plum originated in the town of Minabe, which is an ideal location for ume cultivation due to its natural features. Local farmer Takada Sadagasu was able to develop an ume breed that bore large fruits with a crimson shade, which he decided to name after himself. The Takada ume became famous across Japan as well as abroad after a survey was conducted in the 1950s to determine the best Japanese plum varity.
Takada ume was later renamed by taking the first characters in “Takada (高田)” and “Minabe (南部)” to form “南高,” which can be read as “Nanko,” and since then it has been known as “Nanko ume”.
After being harvested, plums are usually pickled (umeboshi) or turned into plum wine (umeshu). Most umeshu use distilled shochu liquor as a base, while others use a fermented liquor like sake. Heiwa Shuzou’s Tsurume Plum Wine blends the rich flavor of the Nanko ume with sake. For the Ume Sake Kit Kat, powdered sake based on the Tsurume Plum Wine is combined with Kit Kat’s white chocolate, creating a delicate balance in the new final product. Each Kit Kar bar in this line comes with the promise of the refreshing aroma and aftertaste of ume sake.
The Ume Sake Kit Kat comes in a green box with images of ripe Nanko plums to represent freshness. In the middle of the box is an image of a sake bottle wrapped in white and sealed with a red string. It bears the characters for “ume” and “sake,” as well as the lines, “The elegant taste of sake, wrapped in the gentle sweetness of white chocolate. Enjoy the rich satisfying flavor of sake.”
Each box contains nine individual foil packs of Kit Kat which will be sold at 756 yen after taxation. A limited number of prototypes for the Ume Sake Kit Kat were distributed to 240 guests at the CRAFT SAKE WEEK held in Roppongi Hills on April 20 to 30, 2018. The Ume Sake Kit Kat began being sold in stores in September 2018.
Kit Kat Japan brings locals and visitors alike closer to Japan’s food culture by recreating unique flavors to represent regional specialties and produce. With each new flavor, there is a story to discover and remember.