Yah, I hear ya and I don't really know. I mean, I would not say with certainty that it wasn't psychosomatic...but I'm pretty rational and fully expected to be fine. Like you, I also eat mainstream products with no gluten added, but that are not certified gluten free (e.g. I eat some corn tortillas from a local grocery store, certain corn chips, Cambell's soups, Butterball...blah blah...and I eat at restaurants that are friendly for celiacs but that are not gluten free). Subsequently I probably eat trace amounts of gluten. But I am very serious about avoiding gluten.
I've had liver problems related to gluten and lost 30 pounds in 3 months (Nov and Dec08, Jan 09). I was a walking skeleton -- worse period of my entire life as I've never felt so ill (not to mention I was articling as well so I didn't have time for a failing liver). I thought I was dieing (my dr. thought I had cancer)...turns out I had celiac disease. I have JUST recently had my first normal liver panel since Nov 08 (clearly was not drinking while my liver panel was abnormal) and this confirms for me that my health depends on taking a gluten free diet seriously. So I"m not tempted by a good french pastry. I have no desire to eat something that will certainly contain gluten. Consequently, if I don't know for sure, I don't eat it. But I am not so 'rigid' that I won't eat food that is not certified gluten free.
Given the above, I felt comfortable drinking grain based vodka (it seemed to pose 0 risk). I'm at a loss about how/why I felt sick. Respecfully, I do know when I've been glutened...there is a particular and unique exhaustion that overcomes me as well as a brain fog that I don't experience otherwise. Ugh. But because I am logical I do appreciate that my symtoms may have been psychosomatic. Given the evidence regarding the distillation process, logic seems to dictate no other conclusion. However...there is still my gut instinct and my instincts (derived from knowledge & experience... not intuition) say "stay away from wheat based booze" (at least for now) so that's what I plan to do.
I agree, it should be fine. A friend of mine was recently diagnosed and I told her the same. I"ve also told her that for whatever reason, it seems to make me sick.
I get the brain fog symptoms and slight memory issues whenever I eat stuff that has gluten in it. I did find that stolichnaya vodka is gluten free so I recommend trying that.