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Most cut brandies are graded by the relative amount of brandy it contains. Grades are represented by stars.
- 0 stars, almost no brandy at all, only some bringing color to the grain liquor.
- 1 star, one third (1/3) of brandy
- 3 stars, three fourth (3/4) of brandy
The Finnish Jaloviina ("Noble Spirit") is a cut brandy with 38% (one star) or 40% (three stars) ABV that tastes strong and has no sugar whatsoever. The brandy used for Jaloviina is a French cognac. Therefore, it tastes similar to its most important ingredient.
In Germany, particularly in former East Germany, cut brandy (German: Weinbrandverschnitt) is widespread. German cut brandy is never graded. However, a large majority of the cut brandy on the German market falls into the zero stars category. A typical characteristic of German cut brandy is its unusual low alcohol content, generally between 28% and 32% alcohol by volume. Therefore it has a very soft taste which is possibly the reason for its popularity in Germany. German cut brandy also has a very distinct taste, quite different from genuine brandy and other cut brandies like Finnish Jaloviina. Most brands of cut brandy in Germany are of East German origin and the eastern states of Germany are also the most important market for cut brandy. This has historical reasons. In the East German planned economy there was very often a shortage of brandy and cut brandy was produced as a substitute. Eastern German cut brandy is traditionally called Goldbrand (cut brandy with at least 10% brandy) or Goldkrone (cut brandy with at least 20% brandy), both colloquially called Goldi. The very few cut brandies of West German origin do not use these names. The most popular German cut brandy is Wilthener Goldkrone which is also the most popular distilled beverage in Germany. However, only relatively few Wilthener Goldkrone is sold in former West Germany since cut brandy is much more popular in the eastern part of the country. German cut brandy is often used for rather simple mixed drinks. If drunk neat, it is generally cooled and served in shot glasses. Some, however, prefer to drink it like brandy from snifters and at room temperature.