A Kentucky sheriff says prized bottles of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon that were spirited away by a whiskey-theft ring might end up being destroyed rather than auctioned.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton has backed off his suggestion that 28 bottles of the prestigious brand be sold at auction, with proceeds mostly going to charitable causes.

Melton said Wednesday that Julian Van Winkle III, grandson of Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle Sr., raised concerns about putting the whiskey up for sale. Van Winkle wants the stolen bourbon destroyed because of concerns it might have been tampered with or contaminated.

The sheriff says he respects Van Winkle's wishes. A judge will ultimately decide the whiskey's fate once the theft case is completed.