Meet Rocco, the cocker spaniel who works at a whisky distillery

Meet Rocco, the cocker spaniel who works at a whisky distillery


What a good boy (Picture: Grant’s Whisky)This is Rocco, the one-year-old cocker spaniel who works at Grant’s Whisky distillery in Girvan, Scotland.
His job? To sniff out the quality of the wooden casks at the cooperage.
He also has the run of the distillery, so he can pick up the scent of anything else that needs tending to regarding the whisky.
If something smells wrong to Rocco, it gets reported to Grant’s associate global brand director Chris Wooff (great name, we know).
Chris 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 is one year old (Picture: Grant’s Whisky)

He underwent training for six months (Picture: Grant’s Whisky)‘Mechanical ‘noses’ are widely used in the wine-making industry, but we wanted to maintain the tradition of our craft skills by using a dog’s natural super-sense of smell in our quality control process.
‘Rocco’s ability to “nose” a very large number of casks in a short space of time means he is a fantastic addition to our team of craftsmen.’

Lianne said: ‘The atmosphere lifts wherever Rocco is working’ (Picture: Grant’s Whisky)

Someone deserves a raise (Picture: Grant’s Whisky)Before he could take the job, Rocco underwent six months of intensive training with expert Stuart Phillips in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Stuart used cask samples from the Grant’s distillery to build a training ground for Rocco.

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He 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.’
The staff at Grant’s built Rocco a kennel outside the distillery, where he can be on call night and day.
His needs are seen to by team leader Lianne Noble, who gets his daily work schedule ready and keeps him fed and exercised.

Chris said: ‘He is a fantastic addition to our team of craftsmen’ (Picture: Grant’s Whisky)

Playtime is his reward for working hard (Picture: Grant’s Whisky)Lianne said: ‘Word spread very quickly around the distillery about Rocco’s arrival in the team and it has been amazing to see the impact he has on everyone around him.
‘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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When asked whether Rocco has any favourites, Lianne tells no, but ‘he gets plenty of attention from almost everyone’
She adds: ‘He has such a kind and gentle temperament, which brings so much joy to our whole team.
‘When he’s finished his sniffer dog duties, Rocco gets to play with his favourite ball as a reward for all of his hard work, which he just loves.’
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