Pat Nolan Blog

Rocco’s schnozzle

Rocco, a one-year old cocker spaniel, has just landed his dream job in the spirits industry - he's been given the run of the Grant’s Whisky Distillery in Girvan, Scotland.

Whisky-lovers pride themselves on their nose for a dram, but they’ve nothing on Rocco’s schnozzle. Rocco had to endure six months of intensive training to hone his natural canine super-sense of smell in Grant’s quality control processes. His role is to sniff around the cooperage where wooden barrels are made by highly-skilled craftsman using traditional techniques to prepare the barrels that protect and help perfect Grant’s Scotch Whisky through the years.

When he’s done checking out the quality of the wood in the cooperage, Rocco noses around the rest of the distillery to make sure that everything’s ship shape. If Rocco picks up the scent of anything that needs attention, he barks his orders out to Grant’s very own top dog, Associate Global Brand Director Chris Wooff [if this isn’t a shaggy dog story etc – Ed].

“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,” explains Chris, “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’s a fantastic addition to our team of craftsmen.”

But he’s taken no dog-in-the-manger attitude to his new romping ground. To make sure that Rocco feels right at home (he’s on dog-whistle night and day) Grant’s craftsmen have built him a kennel right outside the South Ayrshire distillery and he’s cared for by Team Leader Lianne Noble who prepares his dog daily work schedule – and keeps him fed and exercised.

“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 Lianne, “The atmosphere lifts wherever Rocco’s 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.”

Rocco sniffs out his patch in Grant's South Ayrshire Distillery.

Rocco sniffs out his patch in Grant’s South Ayrshire Distillery.

 

 

Sign up for Drinks Industry Ireland

Get a free weekly update on Drinks Industry trade news, direct to your inbox. Sign up now, it's Free