SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Bibulous bourbonism.


It would take a lifetime for a single person to drink his or her way through the inventory at a moderate-sized package store, much less one the size of Liquor Barn — and speaking only for myself, I’m not quite that bibulous any longer.

The adjective bibulous describes something that is highly absorbent, like a towel or sponge that soaks up liquid well. A bibulous person, however, is someone who likes to drink alcohol.

Bibulous, pronounced “BIB-you-luhs,” comes from the Latin word bibere, which means “to drink.” You may recognize this root in the verb imbibe, which often means “to consume alcohol.” As it applies to people, bibulous means “likes to drink alcohol.” So don’t make the mistake of using it to describe someone who seems to soak up information or understand complicated ideas quickly.

Rather, let’s consider the new usage of an old word, as it now describes one option for the bibulous.

Bourbonism is a word combining Bourbon Whisky and Tourism: “Bourbonism: The blending of bourbon and tourism. The act of visiting Louisville and Kentucky to experience the bourbon culture.”

Yesterday was the “soft” debut of Rabbit Hole Distillery in NuLu, and Insider Louisville’s Sara Havens was there.

Behold the Rabbit Hole Distillery, where modern meets tradition

Rabbit Hole Distillery, the first of three bourbon experiences to open this year in Louisville, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and first-look tour Tuesday morning for staff, industry representatives, city officials, business people and media.

Greg Fischer, mayor of Louisville, attended the event.

“The concept, the style with which this project was envisioned and completed and to where it’s going to go is something that puts a big smile on my face when I think about the future of our city,” said Fischer. “What’s so neat about bourbonism is we can go into beautiful, adaptive re-use buildings or have tremendous modern architecture jewels like this, but they all say the same thing: Welcome, come in, experience the best of what we have to offer.”

Correlation does not imply causation, but the use of the word “bourbonism” to describe bourbon whiskey-related tourism seems to have arisen within the past decade, corresponding with Fischer’s two terms as mayor.

Consequently, it’s deliciously ironic that there’s an older (and also distinctly American) usage of “bourbonism” in the political realm.

Although the terms “Bourbon Democrat” and “Bourbonism” appear frequently in historical works, they are perhaps the most imprecisely used terms in southern politics. Emerging in the United States after the Civil War, the term came to define the most reactionary wing of the Democratic Party and the era in which they reigned.