A UK first, meet Bran & Rocco, the whisky project detection dogs
Detection dogs are known for their excellent sense of smell, and now one has started work at a Scottish whisky distillery.
Rocco, an 18 month old Working Cocker Spaniel is being used to identify imperfections in whisky casks at the Grant's Whisky distillery in Girvan in Ayrshire.
Trained in Pembrokeshire, West Wales by multi-award winning dog trainer Stuart Phillips, Rocco was trained alongside another Cocker Spaniel, Bran, for this secret detection dog project, a first in the UK and Europe. Rocco is now working full time at the Grant's Whisky distillery in Girvan, helping staff there to identify wooden casks which have imperfections. Should Rocco identify any casks then Rocco's new handler will inform staff at the cooperage, who can place the casks to one side and not be used in the whisky making process. What exactly Rocco and Bran have been trained to sniff out remains confidential, but Whisky drinkers can be assured that the dogs are helping to identify imperfections in the wooden casks, ensuring that the quality of whisky produced remains at the exceptionally high standard expected by the whisky maker and the consumers purchasing bottles of whisky.
Training Rocco and Bran took over 8 months and involved a huge amount testing, training and evaluation as detection dogs have never been trained to perform this very special task before in the UK or Europe. Instead of just training the one dog, Rocco, Stuart decided to train two dogs, so he could measure their performance during training and should one of the dogs fail the training then there would be a reserve. Thankfully neither dog failed the training, both performed exceptionally well, but there was only one vacancy with Grant's at their Girvan Distillery, which was filled by "Whisky Dog" Rocco.
Their trainer Stuart Phillips can normally be found assisting Police, Trading Standards and Customs, using detection dogs to locate drugs, cash and illegal tobacco products throughout the UK. Stuart who has been working and training dogs for over 22 years started his career with the Ministry of Defence and upon leaving the MOD set up his own small company B.W.Y Canine Ltd, training and working with specialist dogs. Stuart is based in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.
With Rocco now working full time at the Grant's Distillery in Scotland, Bran will remain with Stuart and be used to help other Whisky makers in the UK, putting his unique and specialist skills to very good use.
Stuart commented, "To be asked by Grant's Whisky to lead this project was fantastic news. Grant's Whisky is the fourth largest Scotch whisky maker in the world and for them to ask a small Pembrokeshire business to work with them on this was a huge honour. This is the first time dogs have been trained to perform such a task in the world, there are no other dogs doing this in any other whisky distillery. This has been massive for me, as a dog trainer to be working on a world first with detection dogs, this has been a dream project. Rocco and Bran who are both Working Cocker Spaniels have been a pleasure to train and work with. It hasn't been an easy process and because no one has ever done this before, I've had no where to go to for advice, like I would when training other dogs for explosives, tobacco or drugs. For over 8 months I've had to keep this whole project quiet, so it's great that this is now in the news and people can hear about the worlds first whisky dogs which were trained in Pembrokeshire for a huge Scotch whisky. maker."
For further information on this please contact Stuart Phillips via email or telephone, details can be found on our contact page.
This project hasn't been easy, it's been quite time consuming and 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. I'm so pleased with Rocco and Bran who have both turned out to be fantastic at carrying out this very special job for Grant's Whisky.Stuart Phillips, Multi-Award Winning Dog Trainer - B.W.Y Canine Ltd
Rocco will now be based in Girvan at the Grant's Distillery and Bran will remain with me and be used to assist other Whisky makers in the UK.