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Grant's Whisky Dog Project
In 2020 experts from Grant's Whisky (William Grant & Sons) contacted Stuart Phillips from B.W.Y Canine Ltd to look at the possibilities of training a detection dog.
Grant's is the oldest family-owned blended whisky and is currently sold in over 180 countries. It is the world's fourth largest Scotch whisky brand, selling 4.1 million cases of whisky in the first half of 2020. The mother company, William Grant & Sons also owns single malt whisky brands, including Glenfiddich and The Balvenie.
Working with Glenfiddich Master Blender Brian Kinsman, Stuart Phillips began to explore the possibilities of training a detection dog to assist with quality control at Grant's Girvan distillery. The "Whisky Dog Project" started in August 2020 and multi-award winning detection dog trainer Stuart, selected two Cocker Spaniels for the project. Rocco and Bran, both Working Cocker Spaniels were selected just the same as Stuart would select a detection dog to carry out other detection dog roles like drug detection and explosive detection. To this day, the odours that Rocco and Bran were trained to identify remain a secret.
In April 2021 and after eight months of rigorous training, testing and evaluating, both Rocco and Bran were put to the ultimate test at Grant's Girvan distillery, one of the largest facilities in Scotland. Both Rocco and Bran excelled at their work and after four weeks of testing with a new handler at Girvan, both dogs were given the green light and now deemed fully trained and accredited.
Rocco began to work full time in May 2021 with his new handler and over the past 12 months have helped staff at the distillery with the quality control of all whisky produced by the Girvan distillery.
Bran, the second dog trained by Stuart has since been retrained for another task as only one detection dog was required at the distillery and Rocco was chosen to carry out this task. When asked why two dogs were trained for this project, Stuart explains that for a project like this, which has never been done anywhere in the world before, it's always better to train two dogs. Training two untrained dogs, gives you the opportunity to make comparisons and look at potential issues which arise with one dog. You also have the added security that if one dog does not succeed then you have a backup. Thankfully it became quite apparent during this project that both Rocco and Bran were going to succeed as both were very strong and capable detection dogs.
Rocco and Bran were the first detection dogs trained to perform this specialist role in the world and we believe that there are no other dogs carrying out this very special function.
Below you will find some video clips from TV.