misswho42 wrote: If anyone could give me any advice to a Whiskey novice like me, I'd be very grateful.
There are much fewer Japanese whiskies compared to Scotch, and even fewer available here in the UK (i assume you're located in UK). So it's down to the choice. If he likes Highland i would assume it's single malt and not blends, and that he won't go for heavily peated. I'll list a couple blends in case, also a couple of what we call 'malt blends' or blended malts.
There is a category once known as a vatted malt, or now called a 'malt blend'. These Japanese malt blends are excellent, the Pure Malt Red and Pure Malt Black can be found at specialists, the Pure Malt White is quite peaty and a vatting of Scottish and Japanese malt so best to stay with the Red and the Black versions (they're about £35 for a 50cl bottle). There are a couple other Japanese malt blends available but i'd stick to these two.
The Hibiki 12 is a favourite 'blend' with whisky fans. A bit unexciting imo but it's popular. About £45 for a 70cl bottle and the packaging is quite nice for a gift. Another blend of note is the 'Nikka From The Barrel' which is a high strength 50cl bottle at about £32.
If you want to stay with Single Malts - i think you should - the choice is simple. There is the Yamazaki 10, the Yamazaki 12, and Hakushu 12. The Yama 10 isn't great imo so i'd consider the two 12 year olds. The Yama 12 is £40+, (it was cheaper in Booth's if you live up North), and the Hakushu 12 is just out of budget at £50+. Both of these two are great and are up with the top Scotch malts. The only other Japanese single malt options are the Yoichi 10 and the Miyagikyo 10, these are good whiskies but a bit pricey for what they are at about £60.
Start your shopping here http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/
and good luck. If you can, let us know if he enjoys what you get him.
Japanese whisky makes a