Rocco the sniffer dog at Grant's Whisky distillery
Rocco the sniffer dog at Grant's Whisky distillery

A newly employed sniffer dog helping with quality control at a whisky maker will report back to an appropriately named boss.

Rocco, a one-year-old cocker spaniel, is being used to sniff out any imperfections in wood used to make the barrels at the Grant’s Whisky distillery in Girvan in Ayrshire.

And should he detect any issues with the casks at the cooperage, they will be reported to associate global brand director Chris Wooff.

Rocco the sniffer dog at Grant's Whisky distillery

Mr Wooff said: “Wood is a natural material, and the distilling of whisky is an organic process, so our job for Grant’s Whisky is to make sure that everything is perfect as the whisky ages in the oak casks.

“The sense of smell of a dog like Rocco is 40 times stronger than a human’s, and we’ve specially selected and trained Rocco to pick up the scent of anything that’s not quite right as the whisky matures.”

Rocco was trained for the role for six months in Pembrokeshire by dog expert Stuart Phillips.

Chris Wooff of Grant\u2019s Whisky

Mr Phillips said: “A dog like Rocco has such a powerful natural sense of smell that my job was to help him focus on identifying specific scents in the wood, and then communicating what he’s found to the Grant’s team.”

Although Rocco’s findings will be sent to Mr Wooff, his day-to-day care at the distillery – where staff have made him a special kennel – will be looked after by team leader Lianne Noble.

She said that while Rocco’s primary function is to help maintain the quality of the whisky, his presence is having a secondary benefit.

Rocco the sniffer dog at Grant's Whisky distillery

Ms Noble said: “The atmosphere lifts wherever Rocco is working, and people can’t help but smile in his presence.

“He’s a working dog rather than a workplace pet, so we have guidelines in place to make sure he doesn’t get disturbed when he’s taking a break between shifts, but the boost in morale has been a joy to see.”

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