Henri Viaud, Master Distiller
In 1986, when I was traveling and trying to learn about essential oils, I kept hearing about Mr. Henri Viaud. He had a reputation of distilling more plants, more shrubs, more sticks, more flowers, more needles, more seeds, and even more rocks than anyone. He was considered the father of French distillation. So I said to myself, if I’m going to learn distillation, I’ve got to find the best. It took me five years to find him; and finally in 1991, he came to dinner at Jean-Noël and Jane’s house.
That night I was sitting on the right side of Mr. Viaud; but through the entire two-hour dinner, Mr. Viaud never talked to me. He never even looked at me. I was feeling that because he didn’t speak English, it was too uncomfortable for him to try to talk to me.
However, when the meal was finished, he turned to me, laid his right hand on my left forearm, held up his finger, and was shaking it just a little bit, and said, “Mr. Young, what do essential oils mean to you?”
His stare into my eyes went right into my soul, and I knew this was really the test to decide whether he would accept me as a student. I was just taken; I had no words; I couldn’t even think of something to say. So I just took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and said exactly what appeared on my screen: “Mr. Viaud, essential oils are the closest tangible, physical thing to God there is on this planet.”