At the risk of treading near the edge of the rule, I will do my absolute best to keep this focused on NC.
I have had several of the big names from the island whose name shall not be mentioned. They are wonderful with some age.
I have also had most of the same names in their NC versions. Many of the NC versions fall short in any effort of replicating their CC cousin. Not necessarily that the NC brand is a bad smoke, but they very different from the original and often use that band name to justify a premium price tag.
One glaring example is Cohiba. The NC Cohibas are not bad cigars. They are not, in my opinion, worth their price, but I will not turn my nose up at them if I find one in my hand. I certainly wouldn’t call them a dog rocket, but I also don’t seek them out unless there is a killer deal on a sampler or something. There is some value in keeping some less expensive “B” sticks around and that’s what I consider them. If they were the real thing, I’d keep them with the rest of my really premium cigars. It’s the same thing with Macanudo in my book.
There are some NC brands that I believe are at least as good as (if not better than) anything coming out of the forbidden island. My favorite examples are Ashton and Arturo Fuente. Certainly not every smoke from their lines are better, but some of them, like the Ashton VSG are outstanding (in my opinion).
Somewhere in between, I’d put brands like Romeo y Julieta and Then Montecristo. Most of those lines are okay smokes but I don’t find them all outstanding. I will be the first to admit that I absolutely love the NC RyJ brand, and the 1875 or the Reserva Real are two of my favorite go-to cigars. I really like the Monte by Montecristo, but I’ve had a lot of Montecristos that I’d consider “B” smokes.
In the end, smoke what you like. Tastes are HIGHLY subjective, and our brains are easily influenced by things that don’t matter. If someone handed out a box of FFOX to everyone here, but lied about the brand on them, my guess is that you’d find a lot of different reviews. Some wouldn’t like it because they wouldn’t like that flavor and strength no matter what you call it. Some would love it because they’ve had that smoke 100 times, know and love it like falling into their bed after a long day of hard work.
But I suspect that a larger number of us than we’d like to admit would be heavily influenced by the brand name of what ever you told us it is. Some might say they don’t like it because they only like CCs. If you told us it was a Montecristo, some would like it or hate it just because of that. Many opinions are subconsciously formed before cigars are even lit.
Tastes are HIGHLY subjective and I suppose that was a long way to say that you just have to find why you like and enjoy it. It doesn’t matter what anybody else likes. But if you’re wondering why a smoke you really like isn’t as well received by the masses here, it’s likely a mix of NC “knock-off” bias, general deficit of the brand in relation to the CC brand of the same name, and to some extent, some people just don’t like them no matter what they’re called.
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