When the law breaks a case, usually it's the crook that pays the price. But this time, it's the bourbon that could be going down.
Down the drain, that is.
When Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton announced on Tuesday that his deputies had recovered 18 barrels of Wild Turkey and Eagle Rare and at least 25 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle, there was a collective gasp in the bourbon world when he delivered the death sentence: At the end of the case, the bourbon will have to be destroyed.
Well, not if the Bourbon Babe has anything to do with it.
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Carla Carlton, who writes a blog under that name and has been widely quoted for her bourbon expertise, has penned a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear pleading for a "pardon."
She hit social media on Thursday and she's started a petition drive.
"Please pardon my Pappy. He's too young to die," Carlton wrote. "He's only 23 years old — a loyal Kentuckian through and through. ... There's no proof he did wrong. But they say they're going to spill his glorious spirit on the cold hard ground — all because he got caught up with the wrong crowd."
(Carlton also was a huge fan of the Kentucky-set FX series Justified, cataloging all the bourbons that characters sipped and slugged, so she knows her criminals, too. She's urging her followers to "Do it for Boyd Crowder," the main character who ends in prison.)
"They're planning to put down his younger buddies, too. Eagle is only 17 years old, and little Turkey can't be more than 6 or 7. (He might be "wild" but he's just a youngster)," she writes to Beshear. "You are the leader of the Bourbon State. You have fostered a rebirth of America's native spirit. You have helped send a rising tide of bourbon across the globe. I ask you to use your powers as Governor of this great Commonwealth to stop the execution of the stolen barrels and bottles of Pappy Van Winkle, Wild Turkey and Eagle Rare bourbon."
What would Carlton have done with them?
"Set them free and let them live out their amber years in My Old Kentucky Home."
Perhaps literally in her home? She isn't the only one offering to rehabilitate the bourbon.
Sounds like Beshear, just returning from a trade trip to Asia, might be on her side.
His office issued this statement: "We are all glad that some of the missing bourbon has been found. Hopefully we can find some worthy cause for some of Kentucky's finest."
Melton wouldn't mind.
"That's hilarious," said Melton when he saw the letter. "That is funny."
He's been arguing for leniency for Pappy, saying that since it's still sealed, surely it can be safely returned to the Van Winkle family.
But if the court decided the bourbon must be destroyed, Melton said, that's what they'll do.
"We'll follow those orders to a 'T,'" he said.
He's had plenty of volunteers offering their livers and kidneys for the task.
Melton said with a chuckle, "They have stepped up, offered to help in any way they can."