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14 Best Drinks Releases of 2023

The products selected in this list help form Man of Many's Top 100 Products of 2023. The comprehensive guide details the very best in Tech, Fashion, Automotive, Home & Living, Watches, Drinks and Outdoors, as chosen by our expert team of reviewers and editors.

Can a whisky be too old? That’s a question worth asking as we finish off 2023, a year that saw numerous distilleries debuting some of their oldest expressions to date. Scotch legends The Macallan led the proverbial pack, making global headlines with the ultra-limited release of 81-year-old single malt The Reach. Outside of whisky, 2023 was fairly standard in terms of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, not that we’re complaining. After all, one can never have too much spiked soft drink or Aussie red wine in their life. Here’s a rundown of the year’s best drink releases.

Best Drink Releases of 2023

Our list of the best drink releases of 2023 includes the following.

Now that we’ve rounded up our favourites, let’s check out the full list.

Hard Solo | Image: Solo
Hard Solo | Image: Solo

Hard Solo

Spiked seltzers and soft drinks are crushing it right now and so are the cans they come in. Who better than Australia’s own Solo to cash in on the craze with an alcoholic version of the beloved lemon beverage? It goes by the name Hard Solo—soon to be renamed Hard Rated (but that’s a story for another day)—and goes down a bit too easy, according to numerous drinkers. Be careful out there, party people!

While it was far from the best drink released in 2023, Hard Solo was certainly one of the most important. The now-infamous beverage caused headlines when it was first unveiled, with many industry analysts concerned that it was being marketed to children. Irrespective, the release was a blockbuster one for producer Asahi, immediately becoming one of the most popular RTDs on the market.

The Dalmore Cask Curation Sherry Series | Image: The Dalmore
The Dalmore Cask Curation Sherry Series | Image: The Dalmore

The Dalmore Cask Curation Sherry Series

This was a big year for ultra-aged and insanely expensive whiskies such as Dalmore’s Cask Curations Series. Presented in epic packaging and limited to just 150 sets, it represents some of the finest craftsmanship this long-running Scottish distillery has ever produced. As our own Richie Hall found out, each set includes three incredibly rare expressions, which were respectively aged 26, 28, and 43 years in González Byass sherry casks.

Scoring a trio will cost you around AUD$58,000 (you saw the “outrageously expensive” part right?) but you can expect some truly rich and nuanced flavour notes in return. Or you can use the money to buy a new Tesla or something. Your call.

Richie’s feedback: A stunning first release that speaks to the label’s dedication to craftsmanship, The Sherry Edition features the input of fifth-generation winemakers González Byass, led by master winemaker Antonio Flores and his daughter Silvia Flores.

Benriach Malting Season Third Edition | Image: Benriach
Benriach Malting Season Third Edition | Image: Benriach

Benriach Malting Season Third Edition

Benriach is one of the last remaining distilleries in Speyside (and Scotland at large) to distil whisky from its own floor maltings. Call it a living testament to the notion that if you want things done right, you have to do them yourself. It’s with this tradition in mind that they annually release Malting Season, a limited edition series that recently came up on its third edition.

Master Blender Dr. Rachel Barrie and her team hand-selected concerto barley straight from the distillery’s malting floor before aging the spirit in a combination of virgin oak and first-fill bourbon casks. It’s bottled at 48.3 per cent and chock full of flavour notes like spicy ginger, orchard fruit, malted grain, and creamy cocoa. Yum.

Henschke Hill Of Grace Shiraz 2018 | Image: Henschke Wines
Henschke Hill Of Grace Shiraz 2018 | Image: Henschke Wines

Henschke Hill Of Grace Shiraz 2018

One of the year’s best wine releases, Hill Of Grace Shiraz 2018 culls from the ancient vines of its namesake vineyard. Winemaker Henschke described 2018 as being particularly special due to ideal weather conditions, resulting in a plush flavour profile of complex fruit and subtle spice. Various publications are in total agreement and they’ve doled out either perfect or near-perfect scores to this velvety vino.

In his 100-point review for The Vintage Journal, writer Andrew Caillard MW called it “beautifully balanced with voluminous blackberry, mulberry, elderberry roasted chestnut flavours, lovely fine-grained and loose knit tannins, superb volume, and integrated acidity. Finishes firm and minerally long. A superb young wine.”

The Macallan The Reach | Image: The Macallan
The Macallan The Reach | Image: The Macallan

The Macallan The Reach

Love it or hate it, this unicorn whisky was probably the year’s most talked-about drink release. Aged for 81 years before bottling, it’s The Macallan’s oldest-ever whisky and possibly the oldest matured whisky in the world. Whether or not it’s any good is almost beside the point since those who dole out a small fortune to buy the stuff will probably never taste it.

Meanwhile, the sculptural presentation—which places the bottle upon three hands like a Renaissance painting brought to life—has become a trending story unto itself. Call it luxury overkill if you must, but some might call it a rare symbol of human perseverance with the ostentation and price tag to match.

VB Xtra VX | Image: Carlton & United Breweries
VB Xtra VX | Image: Carlton & United Breweries

VB Xtra VX

It was a great day at the office when Man of Many’s team assembled for a blind tasting between standard Victoria Bitter beer and the new VB Extra VX. The latter has been described by the brand as a “slightly bolder and more intense version of the great VB taste,” with a higher ABV of 6.0 per cent (whereas the standard VB is 4.9 per cent).

Representing another point of departure, it comes available in either 4-packs or 24-packs of 250ml ‘throwdown’ stubbies. So what did our team conclude during the blind video tasting? Compared to regular VB, the new VB Extra VX is a “bit spicier, a bit heavier,” to quote fellow beer lovers Nick Hall and Ben McKimm. We’ll take it!

Sullivans cover 21 year old single cask ex bourbon
Sullivans Cove 21-Year-Old Single Cask | Image: Sullivans Cove

Sullivans Cove 21-Year-Old Single Cask

We’re happy to pick up (literally) anything that Sullivans Cove is throwing down, so there was tremendous excitement when this 21-year-old single cask (HH0229) finished in American oak and ex-bourbon (AU$2,250) was released earlier this year. It’s one of their oldest and rarest expressions to date with all 209 bottles offering flavours of rich and tropical fruit, highlighted by a unique silky, wax-like texture, that you’ll only find in Sullivans Cove.

“It’s a typical Sullivans Cove spirit: utterly delicious, beautiful full-bodied in texture, which forms part of the structure,” said distillery manager Heather Tillott. “As an American Oak, ex-bourbon cask, you’ll notice a lot of vanilla-driven flavours and aromas with lots of fruit.”

Patrón en Lalique: Serie 3 | Image: Patrón Tequila
Patrón en Lalique: Serie 3 | Image: Patrón Tequila

Patrón en Lalique: Serie 3

An early trailblazer of the premium spirits category, Patrón blended 14 unique tequilas—aged up to eight years in French and American oak barrels—for this limited-edition release. It comes in a special decanter and delivers an impeccable balance between smoothness and sweetness, layering notes of sherry wine and dried fruit with wood accents and spicy undertones. There are only 299 bottles available worldwide and they’re priced locally at around AUD$11,000. We tried some for ourselves and highly recommend it.

Nedd's Choccy Milk | Image: Nedd's Milk
Nedd’s Choccy Milk | Image: Nedd’s Milk

Nedd’s Choccy Milk

When Nedd Brockman started his run across Australia last year, few people could have predicted the phenomena that would follow. The tradie-turned-ultra marathon runner captured the nation’s attention by travelling a whopping 4,000km from Perth to Bondi Beach on foot, raising AUD$1.85 million for charity at the same time. Upon his triumphant run into Sydney, the 24-year-old cemented his place in the history books but he wasn’t done there.

To cap off his big year, Brockman also unveiled Nedd’s Milk, a flavoured milk loaded with protein that does, as you would expect, some serious good. Not only does each bottle include 26 grams of protein, but the brand donates a portion of every sale to support people experiencing homelessness. Great choccy milk for a great cause is something we can all rally behind. And for all the caffeine lovers out there, Nedd’s also makes a tremendous Iced Coffee.

Starward Muscat Cask | Image: Starward Whisky
Starward Muscat Cask | Image: Starward Whisky

Starward Muscat Cask

Melbourne-based Starward is doing more than any other distillery to put Aussie whisky on the world map. In addition to its award-winning range of flagship expressions, bottled cocktails, and hand-picked single malts, the brand occasionally dials up the experimentation as part of the coveted Projects Program.

Muscat Cask was the program’s latest release and it comes to us on the heels of fan favourites like Stout Cask whisky and the Ginger Beer Cask series. Each batch spent four years inside Muscat barrels to render a ‘first-of-its-kind’ flavour profile to those who were lucky enough to score a bottle through the ballot system. Keep doing Australia proud, Starward!

St Hugo Vetus Purum | Image: St Hugo
St Hugo Vetus Purum | Image: St Hugo

St Hugo Vetus Purum

St Hugos chief winemaker Peter Munro used “less than one per cent of grapes” that were harvested for Vetus Purum, a 2015 vintage Cabernet of exceptional quality. It joins a small but exclusive club of premium brethren released in honour of the vineyard’s 40th anniversary. The words ‘Vetus Purum’ translate to “ancient and pure’ while the wine itself draws from the fertile soil of South Australia’s Coonawarra region. Score a bottle for around AUD$220 and prepare to savour every last drop.

Talisker 45-Year-Old Glacial Edge | Image: Talisker
Talisker 45-Year-Old Glacial Edge | Image: Talisker

Talisker 45-Year-Old Glacial Edge

Part of the Talisker’s Xpedition Oak Series, Glacial Edge was hauled to the ice fields of Northern Canada and exposed to sub-zero temperatures for the last leg of its long maturation program. Some people might call that a gimmick but we’ll be damned if this juice isn’t really freaking good!

It unfurls over the palate in waves of toffee sweetness, pepper, and salted caramel, trailing out on notes of pepper spice and light smoke. A true journey in taste and background alike, this limited-edition release is also the distillery’s oldest expression to date. Snag a bottle before it’s gone for good.

Heaps Normal Coffee Run Stout | Image: Heaps Normal
Heaps Normal Coffee Run Stout | Image: Heaps Normal

Heaps Normal Coffee Run Stout

From leading non-alcoholic brewery Heaps Normal comes this limited edition porter, which bridges the gap between morning coffee and dark beer. Its ABV of less than 0.5 per cent and small amounts of caffeine make it an all-day sipper that will pick you up but never let you down. Each batch is infused with coffee from Newcastle-based Floozy Coffee Roasters, where founder and ‘bean queen’ Kmac plies her craft. Heaps Normal calls it “an all-day-breakfast-beer of champions” and who are we to disagree?

The GlenDronach Grandeur 2023 Edition | Image: The GlenDronach
The GlenDronach Grandeur 2023 Edition | Image: The GlenDronach

The GlenDronach Grandeur 2023 Edition

We’re absolute suckers for rich sherried whisky and this one from The GlenDronach is among our recent favourites. Also known as ‘Batch 12,’ it joins the historic distillery’s ongoing small batch release program. Master blender Rachel Barrie hand-selected the rare sherry casks from which it came, to deliver a 29-year-old single malt that’s simply bursting with deep colour and intense flavour. Value plus quality makes it the year’s best drink release overall, in our opinion.

How Man of Many Chose the Best Drink Releases of 2023

To arrive at this list, the Man of Many team went through hours of rigorous testing, implementation, and analysis before culling it down to the very best. Over the last 12 months, we’ve worked on curated products that push boundaries and pioneer new fronts, across the automotive, fashion, lifestyle, and technology verticals. Sure, we love getting the latest single malt or piece of kit in our hands, but being able to point out the benefits and shortfalls objectively is at the heart of what we do.

As a result, the Top 100 Products is primarily comprised of products we’ve tested in-house and have used extensively first-hand. While there are a few exceptions to this rule, generally due to scarcity and availability, we made note of the cultural significance surrounding each product when we were unable to review it personally.

2023 Drinks FAQs

What are the drinking trends for 2024?

Moderation and sustainable drinking practices are likely to be the major trends observed in the global spirits industry in 2024. According to Bacardi’s 2024 Cocktail Trends Report, moderate drinking and technology-enhanced drinks are two emerging categories to watch in 2024. This comes off the back of reduced consumption in Gen Z drinkers.

What is the most popular cocktail in 2024?

According to Drinks International’s annual survey of the world’s most frequented bars, the most-sold cocktail of 2023 is the NEgroni.