The French term for alembic, 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 word “alembic” has taken on a metaphorical meaning – anything that refines or transmutes, as if by distillation – as in “the alembic of creative thought.”
The French spelling alambic is also commonly used when associated with Cognac where it is known as alambic charentais. Charente is the area where the grapes must be grown and the brandy itself produced in order to be rightfully called Cognac.