Spaniel lands dream job as full-time whisky sniffer

A one-year-old cocker spaniel has secured a job in quality control in a whiskey distillery.

Rocco is responsible for sniffing the aged casks at Grant’s Whiskey in South Ayrshire, Scotland and making sure everything is up to standard.

If he discovers any anomalies, he reports them to his boss, Chris Wooff, who can investigate further express.

Mr. Wooff, Associate Global Brand Director at the distillery, said, “Wood is a natural material and distilling whiskey is an organic process. So it is our job at Grant’s Whiskey to make sure everything is perfect as the whiskey ages the oak barrels.

“A dog like Rocco’s sense of smell is 40 times stronger than that of a human. We have specially selected and trained Rocco to smell anything that is not quite right when the whiskey is matured.

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“Mechanical noses are very common in the wine industry, but we wanted to keep the tradition of our craft skills by using a dog’s natural sense of smell in our quality control process.

“Rocco’s ability to ‘nibble’ a very large number of kegs in a short amount of time means he’s a fantastic addition to our team of artisans.”

The cocker spaniel is in a specially built kennel in the distillery and is looked after by team leader Lianne Noble, who prepares his daily work schedule and feeds and trains him.

Ms. Noble said: “At the distillery, word of Rocco’s arrival on the team got around very quickly and it was amazing to see the impact he is having on everyone around him.

“The atmosphere rises wherever Rocco works and people can’t help but smile in his presence.

“He’s more of a working dog than a workplace pet. So we have guidelines to make sure he isn’t disturbed when taking a break between shifts, but the improvement in morale has been a joy to see.”

Rocco completed a six-month training course with expert Stuart Phillips in Pembrokeshire, Wales to hone his sense of smell before starting the job.

Mr Phillips said, “A dog like Rocco has such a strong natural sense of smell that it was my job to help him focus on identifying certain smells in the wood and then tell the Grant team what he found. “

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