Meet Rocco, Grant’s Whisky Official Sniffer Dog

by David
Rocco’s job is to sniff out the quality of the casks at the cooperage, where wooden barrels are made by
highly skilled craftsmen who use traditional techniques to prepare them to protect and help perfect Grant’s
Whisky for 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 is going to plan. If Rocco picks up the scent of anything that needs
attention, it gets reported to Grant’s top dog, Associate Global Brand Director Chris Wooff.
Here’s everything you need to know about Rocco:

Q: Who is Rocco?
A: Rocco is a working Cocker Spaniel.

Q: What is his role?
A: Rocco’s job is to sniff out the cooperage where wooden barrels are made by highly skilled
craftsmen who use traditional techniques to prepare the barrels that protect and help perfect
Grant’s Whisky for years. 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.

Q: Is it common practice in the industry to use sniffer dogs?
A: Mechanical ‘noses’ are widely used in the wine-making industry, but not in the whisky

rocco grant's whisky

Rocco, Grant’s whisky sniffer dog

Q: How will Rocco change the way the process has been traditionally done?
A: Rocco is a great addition to the team and while he won’t change how we approach the
process of cask quality, his keen sense of sm ell and speed of nosing means we are hoping he
will improve our ability to detect any casks that are not up to our standards.

Q: What’s a typical day for Rocco?
A: This is all new to us at the distillery and we need to learn how to work together to get the
best out of Rocco and to make sure he is happy at his work.  We anticipate he will spend a few
hours each day patrolling the cask compound nosing the empty casks and also helping with
the inspection of new casks arriving at the cooperage.

Q: Where does Rocco live?
A: Rocco lives in Girvan with Lianne Noble his Team Leader at the Grant’s Distillery.

Q: Who is Rocco’s boss?
A: Rocco is lucky to have a few bosses, they include top dog Chris Wooff, Associate Global
Brand Director for Grant’s, Master Blender Brian Kinsman and his day to day boss at the
distillery, Team Leader Lianne Noble.

Q: Is Chris Wooff his real name?
A: Yes indeed, Chris Wooff is the Associate Global Brand Director for Grant’s and has worked for
the business for the past five years.

Q: How long did it take to train Rocco?
A: Training Rocco took approximately six months.

Q: What did his training consist of?
A: His training consisted of environmental and socialisation training in the early stages. During
the environmental training phase Rocco was trained to be around loud noises, people working
and machinery operating, walk on different and difficult floor surfaces and be in environments
to prepare him for work in a busy and sometimes dangerous work place. Then Rocco took part
in search training, indication training and was imprinted on the target odour which he is now
trained to locate within the Cooperage / Distillery. Rocco now regularly takes part in odour
identification tests to ensure that he is performing at the top of his game for his role.

rocco grant's whisky

Q: Who was Rocco’s trainer?
A: Rocco was trained by multi-award winning dog handler, trainer & instructor
Stuart Phillips of B.W.Y Canine Ltd. Stuart is based in Wales where he has kennels and a
training facility to accommodate around 25 dogs. Working Cocker Spaniels, English Springer
Spaniels, Sprocker Spaniels and Labradors are his breeds of choice for detection dogs, and he
supplies both trained and untrained dogs to a number of law enforcement clients in the UK
and internationally.

Q: Do you plan to get more sniffer dogs in the future?
A: We will be closely monitoring Rocco’s progress and are open to expanding his team in the

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