HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Mac McCormack probably owns more whisky than anyone you know. The owner of three Richmond-area restaurants that bear his name, the McCormack's locations boast impressively-stocked bars with a wide array of whisky.
"I would guess in the 15,000 to 18,000 bottle [range] right now," McCormack answered when asked about his selection across McCormack's Big Whisky Grill at Regency Square, McCormack's Whisky Grill in the Fan, and McCormack's Irish Pub in Shockoe Bottom. "I don't know that anybody has more of a selection than we do at Big Whisky. I don't see how they could, because it took me 10 years to put this collection together. Virginia has some restrictions where we have to buy everything from the ABC. And so one of the reasons we have so many bottles and backstock is because of that. So when things become available, I buy as many as I can, just to make sure that we keep them in stock, because I have to not think about today or tomorrow, I have to think about five years from now. And some of the products that we carry, the only reason we have them is that I stocked them 15 years ago having no idea that they will become so popular."
When you sit down at one of McCormack's bars, don't be surprised if he steers you away from his most expensive bourbon pours.
"My job as a bartender here is to show people the ones that they don't have to pay that money for. If people are doing that, and it's not the corporate guys in suits and it's not their money, I say, well, why don't we take a third of that shot price and I'll show you four whiskies that cost a third of that, that I think are almost as good or equally as good. And you don't have to waste a bunch of money," he said. "I understand the value of the bottles that I have, but I actually down-sell people all the time from those kinds of crazy expensive pours. We're a restaurant and I want you to come here once every two weeks, once every three weeks for dinner, I don't want you to just think of us as the expensive place."
McCormack recently reopened his new Big Whisky Grill at Regency Square in Henrico's West End. Learn more about his restaurants and ascension to the top of the Virginia bourbon scene on this week's episode of Eat It, Virginia!
Listen to EAT IT, VIRGINIA for restaurant news and interviews.