Grant’s Whisky in Girvan, Scotland has a unique approach to maintaining a competitive advantage. The brand recently employed a dog to help inspect its wooden casks.

The distillery hired Rocco, an 18-month-old cocker spaniel specifically trained by Stuart Phillips of B.W.Y. Canine, to detect irregularities and imperfections in the wood. A second dog, Bran, was trained at the same time. In a press release, Phillips noted the classified nature of the operation: “It’s the first time such dogs have been trained to carry out a detection role like this and I’ve had to go it alone, in secret.”

Scientists estimate that a canine’s sense of smell is tens of thousands of times more acute than a human’s. Dogs become expert canine sniffers through extensive training, and they are usually trained for one specific scent profile. Typically specializing in narcotics or explosives, recently we’ve seen them using their noses to detect cork taint and Covid, and now to inspect whisky.

Being a natural product, the quality of the wood used in the casks can have a significant impact on the Scotch being produced. As the spirits are infused with the flavors contained in the wood, any inconsistencies can affect the quality of the whisky aging inside. Grant’s Distillery believes that the attention to detail paid by the well-trained woofer and his supervisor, Mr. Wooff (that’s really his name) will help the brand maintain its top shelf status.

Rocco can be seen cruising quickly around the distillery sniffing pallets of casks in a video released by Grant’s. Not only is it an ingenious way to make Scotch even better, we always think it’s a great idea to bring a furry friend to work.