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 / Updated  / Source: NBC News
By Dana McMahan

Cheers over news that a notorious Kentucky whiskey gang was arrested this week soon turned to dismay as the police announced they would have to destroy the crime ring's contraband.

Police seized over $100,000 worth of evidence, including 25 bottles of the rare "Pappy Van Winkle," which can fetch prices of $300-$25,000, depending on age.

But under state law, distillers must age their product in a government bonded warehouse, said bourbon historian Mike Veach.

That means liquor in the precious bottles could be destined for a facility in Louisville that takes damaged or dated alcohol and turns it into ethanol, said Franklin County sheriff Pat Melton.

“Since it left the distillery’s hands they can't guarantee the safety of the bourbon and neither can I,” said Melton. “I don't want to pour all this out and throw it away but I’m going to have to do what the judge orders.”

Now a bereaved woman is pleading with the governor for clemency.

Bourbon Bandits Busted

April 22, 201501:30

“Please pardon my Pappy. He’s too young to die," wrote local writer Carla Carlton in the letter, which she also posted on her blog.

"There’s no proof he did wrong," continued the missive to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. "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."

With the whiskey-soaked Kentucky Derby in Louisville next Saturday driving bourbon mania to full tilt, so far there's no clear sign whether her plea will be granted.

Reached for comment, Governor Steve Beshear released a statement to NBC News: "It's too early to tell what could be done with the bourbon, but it is a shame to think of so much of Kentucky's native spirit going to waste."

Despite the lack of decisive action, the self-described "Bourbon Babe" stands firmly by her beloved "Pappy" and resolute in continuing her campaign. She's created a petition and has asked bourbon fans to show support and pressure the governor with the hashtag #PardonMyPappy.

"I'm optimistic common sense on uncommon whiskey will prevail," said Carlton.

Bottles of bourbon seized by Kentucky police.State of Kentucky