Talking with a lot of older CC smokers that cut teeth on NC, and have settled in to preferring the taste of CC and not just the mantle of mystique, the biggest difference to 'get over' seems to be in general CC tobacco is much younger that almost everything touted as good at a USA B&M. Several BotL in my circle refuse to buy any boxes of CC without close inspection and refuse 4 of 5 boxes shown, so that puts them in the position of stocking Davidoff, Fuente etc as easy to acquire stock while waiting for what CC they do hold to age or whatever. Some people I know do more touching and looking than smoking...
Once you get to Fuente DC, every leaf is 5 years aged prerolled & aged at least another year before boxing; unless your local rolls inventory pretty fast on Fuente, you could easily have something 8-10 years from the fields. I regularly find sealed boxes of DC 2-5 years old freshly shipped from Fuente brokers. Most boutiques follow this general pattern as well, often one strata of the cigar will be 5-10 years and held for release for 6 months or a couple years. I only see HSA doing this on a few items as a habit, aged stock does not seem to be the norm. I'm sure I'd have a different view if distribution channels were at all similar.
Regarding Illusione, they make so many cigars that if you tried them all you'll find one you love. I've never had a 'bad' Illusione or Tabernacle.
I had exactly the same experience with Partagas Short coming from daily NC. It seemed harsh and gusty. 1) a less than 1y old party short is not apples and apples with say a fresh DDT TLD half churchill or a Warped Corto, which in my mind are very Cuban taste DNA and about same size. 2) humidity of NC v CC. A 69% NC burns well. A 69% CC barely burns. 3) overall, i would be of the opinion construction of NC combined with lounge culture leads to 'aggressive' smoking habits which overheat tobacco. NC to me can take a beating with regard to smoking style; CC never rewards anything but gentle patience.
Another apples v apples situation i see regularly is vitola crossing. In NC, I don't think size matters nearly as much to flavor as CC, so a churchill smoker can step to a PC to try a new brand at 1/2 the investment and time as a novelty and still have some basis to make the decision on stepping up to their prefered size. So, a DC#4 would have some of profile of a DC Presidente. With my admittedly limited experience, I would say there's a huge difference between RASS and RASSC, partagas short and D4 and E2 and P2, esp when compounded with a 2 year short is kinda ready and a 2y e2 needs 2-5 more years.
What i have found most accepted by NC smokers as 'wow' -
Monte #2 & #4, partagas D4 - ppl love to recognize something and these are popular for a reason
San Cristobal Principes (could be that I personally tout these hard and give them out exactly like tootsie rolls, so many more rolls of the dice)
Sancho Panza non-plus - passed out a handful of these last week to occassional smokers as I mispacked and surprised by the unambiguous 'wow' response. Big flavor: easy to like.
RyJ anything - hard to explain, I would guess a bitter sourness which is not present in the Altadis USA marques.
Cohiba Siglo I-III - the heavy hitters work on novice palates, but newer little blends have nuances and delicacy that may take a touch of training to detect and appreciate.
My personal big takeaway on taste -
It's yours and it changes. Revisit things. Not liking something now doesn't mean a thing, whether wine, whiskey or cigars. You may like it later. You may always like Jack and White Owls. You may aspire to LXIII and 1966's. Just enjoy what you have a share what you can!