I also decant which forestalls the temptation to drink oughta that big sucker with both hands.
forestalls but does not extinguish, eh squire?
I personally avoid plastic 99% of the time due to leaching and oxidation fears, along with my tendency to let things sit a long while before opening. Time really flies while you're having fun with other bottles! Plus, a voice in my head keeps telling me "if they didn't care enough to put it in glass, maybe they didn't care enough to make it any good." Very disappointed to hear that 1.75s of HH white and AAA are plastic - was planning on picking some up this summer while traveling.
Oxidized ethanol is ethanal (an aldehyde), and fully oxidized ethanol is ethanoic acid, which is vinegar. I'm much less worried about the ethanol oxidizing than the congeners. I have a plastic handle of Benchmark that's about two years old, and it tastes just like the handle I bought about a month ago. That being said, I will be putting my stash of Ten High straight in glass bottles for long-term storage; sometimes it's better not to take a chance.
Having given the matter sufficient thought I've decided not to worry about it.
If I have the choice between glass or plastic I will go with the glass bottle. I just like my drinks packaged in glass, not sure why, must be a quality perception thing. I have purchased some canadian mixers, both club and mist, in plastic handles and didn't feel they tasted any different from the juice in glass bottles. I tend to go through my lower shelf whiskies fairly quick so anything I would buy in plastic wouldn't be around long enough to go bad.
Know what 'cha mean Jim, those plastic handles seem to evaporate quicker.
To Flyfish: I am a blind tasting freak, to the point of only having rarely allowed myself to try a new bourbon while knowing what bottle it came from. So far, glass v. plastic has been a moot issue for me, as practically nothing I have any interest in trying is offered in plastic in my area. But if I do someday encounter plastic handles of reputedly good liquor, I will probably break out in a sweat as I stand at the crossroads.
There is no doubt in my mind, from a scientific standpoint, that plastic containers are inferior bourbon storage vessels. And it seems perfectly logical to conclude that a producer who cares a great deal about the quality of a product would be very unlikely to allow it to be packaged in such an inferior vessel. Perhaps I could convince myself of a total disconnection in the company between people making the stuff and taking the highest pride in it and people deciding to defile and denigrate it by putting it into plastic bottles. If you come upon a man in the bourbon aisle mumbling something along these lines just . . . walk away.
First, never underestimate the extent to which bottom lines win out for any company, respect for their product notwithstanding. And when value bourbons have pretty tight margins, as value bourbons generally do, anything to cut costs is a no brainer.
Second, regarding the whole "from a scientific standpoint": yes, of course it is inferior, but how much so? Is it inferior to any appreciable degree whatsoever? To the degrading effects take decades to manifest? Years? Months? I am not offering answers here (I have no idea) but rather answering clarifying questions. I am reminded of when my mother in law set up my wife in her college housing. She found out that the city had failed its water test for the presence of certain carcinogenic substances and rushed to get a filter so that we wouldn't die. Marginally failing the test to her meant "the water gives you cancer". We later found out that to have even fractional increases in the likelihood of contracting cancer, one would have to drink half a gallon of the stuff every day for 15-20 years. Was the water inferior? Yes. Did it really matter at all? No.