The alambique or alembic is a type of still that originated in the Middle East or Central Asia. The word comes from the Arabic “Al-Dinbiq” and means cup or beaker. It is distinguished by its copper pot that holds liquid that is heated over fire, a top that fits over the pot to capture the vapor from the heated liquid, and a downward facing tube that carries the vapors to a receiving bowl/jar to capture the condensed vapors that have been cooled by touching the top lid or by cool water that touches the outside of the tube.
The Alambique arrived in Mexico with the Spanish and was first introduced on the eastern coast and then made its way throughout Mexico. There are variations in its set up as people have adapted it to making mezcal. It is the most common still used in the production of mezcal and the one you are most likely to see if you visit palenques in Oaxaca.