The invention relates to retorts and accessory apparatus for distilling shale or other oil-yielding minerals. A series of long vertical retorts, composed of fire-brick or similar refractory material, are arranged in two rows in a bench, being divided into groups of four by transverse vertical partitions. The retorts are surmounted by metal casings or hoppers into which the fresh mineral is charged, and from which the distillate passes off through lateral pipes. Any uncondensed gases from the retorts may be passed into the flues surrounding them by the pipe and burned. The products of combustion from a furnace pass through a series of horizontal flues, being compelled to pass completely round each retort before entering the flue above. The products from two or more sets pass from the upper flues into flues running along the top of the bench, and return through a central flue to the chimney.