I have been drinking Maker's Mark for a number of years now, and a few months back I signed up for their Ambassador program. As an Ambassador, you receive a number of benefits in return for promoting the bourbon to others. The coolest benefit is having your name posted on a barrel and then having the ability to taste and purchase the bourbon when it reaches maturity. The Maker's Mark Ambassador Web site also includes links to stories about the distillery; the Samuels family; special events; and, of course, the status of your barrel.
Now, Maker's Mark is quite unique from other bourbons and not just from their trademarked red wax seal. The bourbon consists of iron-free limestone water from a neighboring spring fed lake. The distillery does not use rye, which they feel leaves too much bitterness on the tongue and instead uses locally grown red winter wheat in conjunction with the corn. They feel this combination provides a smoother flavor, plus the grains are softly crushed with an antique roller mill which doesn't scorch the grain. The final ingredient, the yeast, is a special strain developed by the Samuel family and produced directly at the distiller. The mash is distilled twice, first in an all-copper column still at 120 proof, and then a second time in a copper pot still at 130 proof. This low distillation proof preserves the natural flavor of the corn and wheat. Then, after the spirit is stored in white oak barrels, these barrels are rotated within the warehouse in order to help create a consistent flavor.
So that's the story why Maker's Mark differs from other bourbons. We will continue to post on the status of our barrel as we sip it from our red wax dipped glass.