Barrel nose: Whisky-sniffing dog hunts bad casks

Rocco, a one-year-old cocker spaniel has been employed to sniff out imperfections in wooden whisky barrels at a Scottish distillery. — AFP pic
Rocco, a one-year-old cocker spaniel has been employed to sniff out imperfections in wooden whisky barrels at a Scottish distillery. — AFP pic

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EDINBURGH, May 31 — A one-year-old cocker spaniel named Rocco has been employed to sniff out imperfections in wooden whisky barrels at a Scottish distillery with an aptly named boss.

Any problems he finds among the casks at Grant’s whisky distillery in Girvan, southwest Scotland, will be reported to global associate brand director Chris Wooff.

“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,” Wooff said.

“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 was trained for the role for six months and staff have made him a special kennel at the distillery.

Team leader Lianne Noble, who will look after Rocco, said: “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.” — AFP

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