Well, this is a complex question. Part of it is that bourbon has flown on the coatails of Scots malt whisky, e.g., Michael Jackson wrote about both in a similar way in his 1988 World Guide To Whisky. In turn, he wrote about scotch and initially beer in a way parallel to how the wine writers, early wine clubs and wine brokers thought and wrote about wine. Jackson cited Hugh Johnson (noted English wine author) as an influence.
The U.S. East Coast and other affluent centres always had fine wine importers and wine clubs, dating back to the 1930's and probably even earlier. How these thought about wine can be gleaned from some of those great Time Life cookery books of the 1960's, coteries of well-off people sampled fine vintages and (indeed) encouraged the California wine industry: they talked about wine just like people do here about fine whiskey.
What has happened is that an aristocratic habit (whether applying its funds and skills to wine, tapestry, art, cars, furniture, etc.) has become widespread through the effects of consumer culture. More disposable funds and leisure time have allowed people to investigate areas formerly restricted to a privilged few. Economic progress in liberal (capitalist) economies has allowed this.
Now, behind that, is I agree an intention to express individuality. But here we enter the domain of psychology and human motivation, an area most interesting but not peculiar to the appreciation of fine spirits or other consumables.