WILLIAM Grant & Sons has appointed a special recruit to help protect the casks at its Girvan distillery.
Rocco, a one year-old Cocker Spaniel, has been trained to sniff out imperfections in the distillery’s casks and will have the run of the cooperage and wider distillery.
Dogs’ noses are said to be up to 40 times more sensitive that humans’, and Rocco takes up his new role after an intensive six-month training course in Wales.
The improbably named Chris Wooff, associate brand director at William Grant & Sons, 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.
“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.”
Rocco will live in a kennel on the distillery grounds and be cared for by distillery worker Lianne Noble, who will feed and exercise him as well as organising his daily work schedule.
“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,” said Noble.
“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.”