The Cooperative Essential-Oils Distillery at Mézel was founded in 1957 by 88 local producers, becoming members of the Cooperative, in order to reduce the distance between their fields and the distillation site. It provided seasonal work for the young people of the village until the 1970s. In addition to lavender and lavandin, hyssop, mint and clary sage were also distilled. Nowadays, only lavandin and lavender are distilled in Mézel.
This distillery still operates respecting the traditional artisanal principales and techniques which are the only approved methods to receive the accredidation Lavender of Haute-Provence PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), i.e. a preliminary process of fanning, essential for the production of steam. The distillation process lasts on average 45 minutes. Principle: steam distillation of the aromatic compounds, then condensation and collection of the distillates, the discharged elements in an extraction tank to enable their sedimentation and stabilisation: density separation of the water-solubles and the essential-oils (insoluble in water).
Lavandin is a natural hybrid between fine, true, officinalis lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and spike lavender (L. latifolia). Lavandin essence is characterised by the presence of up to 15% camphor. Nowadays, cultivated lavender is the result of numerous selections. Its yield of essential-oil, from 80kg to 150kg per hectare on average, can reach 200kg per hectare, whereas that of fine lavender does not exceed 40kg per hectare.