Definitions

Alembic

Alembic

[uh-lem-bik]

An alembic (from Arabic Al-inbiq الأنبيق) is an alchemical still consisting of two retorts connected by a tube. Technically, the alembic is only the upper part (the capital or still-head), while the lower part is the cucurbit, but the word was often used to refer to the entire distillation apparatus. The alembic was developed circa 800 AD by the Arabic alchemist, Jabir ibn Hayyan (known as Geber in the West); its modern descendant (used to produce alcohol) is the pot still.

The word "alembic" has taken on a metaphorical meaning - anything that refines or Transmutations, as if by distillation - as in "the alembic of creative thought."

The word, as most alchemical terminology, comes from the Arabic: al-inbiq, "still;" ultimately from the Greek ambix, "cup."

The French spelling alambic is also commonly used, especially as the apparatus is often associated with Cognac where it is known as alambic charentaise. Charente is the area where the grapes must be grown and the brandy itself produced in order to be rightfully called Cognac.

The alembic symbol is Unicode U+2697 ALEMBIC (⚗).

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